GUIGUINTO, Bulacan, Dec. 13, 2016 – Monsignor Fernando Garcia Gutierrez, H.P. celebrated on Dec. 9 his golden presbyteral anniversary at the Immaculate Conception Seminary Gymnasium inside the seminary complex in Guiguinto, Bulacan.
Almost 70 priests, groups of Gutierrez’ closest friends, students, colleagues, and seminarians were present at the event, which was marked by a 10:00 a.m. holy Mass at the gymnasium.
Among the notable attendees were Malolos Bishop Jose F. Oliveros, D.D. who gave his thanksgiving message on behalf of the clergy and chancery staff of the diocese and Kalookan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., D.D., a close friend and companion in the ministry.
‘Jewel in the crown’
In his homily, Gutierrez reflected on his years in the ministry, saying he considered his years in the seminary as the “jewel in the crown” of his years in priestly service. He also reflected that despite being hindered by mobility ailments, he remains steadfast in doing what is best for the ministry of diakonia in the Church.
The priest also said much of his ministry was spent in the seminary as the pioneer formator assigned by the second Bishop of Malolos Cirilo R. Almario, Jr., D.D. who gave him
“complete trust” in running the then newly-established Institute of Formation.
1983 saw a large number of Bulakeño seminarians enrolled in different seminaries in Manila and Southern Luzon. He had the monumental task of being rector from 1983 to 1995. After the Mass, attendees had lunch at the gymnasium.
Gutierrez hails from Hagonoy, Bulacan, considered a “levitical town” because of the many priests it has produced for the diocese as well as other dioceses and religious congregations.
He finished his Doctorate in Ministry and Master’s in Religious Education in the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. in 1982. Upon ordination, he was recorded to be the 49th priest of the 114 priest-sons of the town.
Besides being seminary rector, he was also assigned as chairman of the Diocesan Commission on Formation and was Regional Director for Central Luzon for the then newly-created Episcopal Commission on the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA), which was then headed by Almario.
Upon retirement from the seminary, he went to the United States and served in the Diocese of San Diego, California and was Supervisory Chaplain of the U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Prisons in the same city from 2011 to 2015.
Currently, he spends his retirement teaching in seminaries and schools both in the United States and the Philippines. He is also an author of 10 books which are available at St Pauls Philippines. (Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban / CBCP News)