Archbishop Tito Adolfo C. Yllana: Sustained by God’s grace

By R. Francisco A. Evangelista


Childhood at Blumentritt


Adolfo Tito C. Yllana was born to Adolfo C. Yllana and Salud S. Camacho on the 6th of February 1948 in Naga City. He is the 2nd of 5 siblings, namely Francia, Dolores, Pio and Andrea. He spent his childhood at Blumentritt, Naga City.


He had his elementary schooling at the Naga Parochial school and graduated in 1960. He was an bubbly and energetic young boy.


Education and Formative Years – Concepcion Boy


After his elementary years, he proceeded to the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary for his High School studies.

Then he continued his formation in the Priesthood at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary, completing his formation in the year in the early 70’s.


On March 19, 1972, Feast of St. Joseph, he was ordained priest by the Archbishop of Caceres, His Excellency Most Rev. Teopisto Alberto.


First Assignments


His first assignment was as one of the assistants of the late Msgr. Nicanor Belleza at the Metropolitan Cathedral. He was the assigned as formator in the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary.

Most Rev. Adolfo Tito C. Yllana, DD, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, posed after he celebrated 50 years of priesthood on June 10, 2022 at the Chapel of the Choir, St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Earlier this year in March 22, at the Notre Dame Institute in Jerusalem, he first celebrated his golden sacerdotal anniversary with the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land and the local Catholic community.Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, a Nagueño, was appointed by Pope Francis for the Holy Land on June 3. In these first months of his mission, he had the honor of welcoming Pope Francis on his apostolic journey to Cyprus in December 2021. A visit that - he said - made us feel that the Pope is close and that the Church is in our midst. Archbishop Yllana expressed gratitude and the privilege of being in the Holy Land:”How could I imagine or think that I would be right here, where the source of my priesthood is? I was ordained in the Philippines in 1972 and I am here celebrating in 2022, right where the Lord instituted the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the priesthood. It is indeed a joy I have not deserved.... Just as I have not deserved anything in these fifty years. If I have made it to these fifty years, it is because God has manifested His grace to me, not because of my own merit. It is He who has always supported His priest.” (Source: cmc-terrasanta.org/ contributed photo)


He became Rector of the Minor Seminary and was even a Speech Mentor. His students describe him as equipped with a large reel tape recorder, his students describe him as ‘full of passion’. He would love to play basketball with the seminarians and then Fr. Prospero Arellano, who later became Bishop of Libmanan


Further Studies


Providence would have it that he was sent to Rome for further Studies -taking a double doctorate on Canon Law and the Italian Civil Law at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, Italy.


He began his diplomatic career in the Academia Ecclesiastica, the premier academy for the diplomatic corps of the Vatican.


In the Diplomatic Service


After his studies and preparation, he was assigned to different countries in the different Nunciatures.


His first diplomatic post was in Ghana, Africa. He was later assigned to the Diplomatic posts in Sri Lanka, Turkey, Lebanon, Hungary. Then, he became Charge’d-affiares to Taiwan,China.


On 13 December 2001 he was appointed titular archbishop of Montecorvino and Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea.


He was consecrated by Pope John Paull II on 6 January 2002 in St. Peter’s Basilica. He was given the additional responsibility of Apostolic Nuncio to the Solomon Islands.


After four years, he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan, on 31 March 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI. He finished is tour of duty in Pakistan in 2010.


On 20 November 2010, the same Pope Benedict appointed him as the Apostolic Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was there until 2015.


On 17 February 2015, Pope Francis appointed Yllana as the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia (2015-2021), replacing Archbishop Paul Gallagher. His tenure in Australia were challenging years for the Church in Australia.


The Holy Land


On 3 June 2021, Pope Francis named him Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and to Cyprus as well as Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine. For him, this was an unexpected turn in his journey of the priesthood.


He who has always considered himself a fruit of Bicol, of the Naga Parochial School, of the Holy Rosary Seminary, -a Concepcion Boy, on his 50th anniversary of the Priesthood, finds it a marvelous grace to serve as representative of the Holy Father in the Holy Land, where our Lord Jesus, himself, established the Priesthood.


The Church in the Philippines can equally be proud and humble for this, as it celebrates 500th years. A number of her Sons, are serving in important posts in the Universal Church –and certainly, this humble representative of the Holy Father in Jerusalem is one of them.


‘PREDICARE ET MINISTRARE’


When he was named Bishop, he chose as his Episcopal Motto: “Praedicare et Ministrare.” ‘To bring God’s Word and to Serve.’ This means sitting at the foot of the master as a disciple, and being sent out into the world for mission and service. This is very much in accord with Pope Francis’ call for Christians – to be ‘Missionary Disciples.’ Throughout his life and ministry as priest, ‘Praedicare at Ministrare’ has been his inspiration.


On his 50th, his priesthood he feels truly blessed. He continues to fulfill the mission. In one of their recent gatherings, Pope Francis said:


the Nuncio is a man of apostolic zeal, with “the duty of illuminating the world with the light of the Risen One, of bringing Christ to the ends of the earth”. At the same time, he must be a man “of mediation, of communion, of dialogue, and of reconciliation”, who must be impartial, seeking only justice and peace.


Yet, before being a Nuncio, he is first of all a Priest of God. On his Golden Jubilee, Archbishop Tito could not but affirm God’s sustaining grace, that special grace he has received 50 years ago.


Always conscious of his humble beginnings from Blumentritt, from NPS, the Minor and Major Seminary, from Concepcion Naga City, he is grateful to God’s grace for the gift of priesthood and the gift mission the Lord has entrusted to him.


A contemporary during his seminary years says of him: “What struck me was his prayerfulness. Reaching 50 years is a sign that he always believed in the grace of his vocation... a mark of deep spirituality.”


Archbishop Tito Himself affirms: ‘God’s grace has sustained this humble servant of his.’


*****

On September 29, 2022 at four o’clock in the afternoon, Archbishop Adolfo Tito C. Yllana, DD, will celebrate a thanksgiving mass on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. It will be held at the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City.