Caceres celebrates Archbishop’s 75th birthday

By Julma M. Narvadez


Prayers of thanksgiving and well wishes mark the celebration of the 75th birthday of Most Rev Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD. The Archdiocese of Caceres, cognizant of the COVID19 pandemic as a continuing public health and economic issue, decides to celebrate the milestone modestly sans an archdiocesan gathering.

Tria Tirona’s 75th birthday coincides with his 9th year in Caceres, having been installed as Archbishop in November 2012. Early in his episcopacy, he was immediately called “Darling of the Press” by the local media for his approachability. His natural penchant for mass communication has also led to a vibrant communications ministry. Even prior to the pandemic, the Archdiocese has a strong online presence as religious celebrations and activities are streamed live. Currently, the Caceres fb page has more than 100,000 followers.


As the 34th Bishop and the 4th Archbishop of Caceres, he has steered the Archdiocese towards the promotion of basic ecclesial communities, the strengthening of the social action program, and the establishment of parochial schools and scholarships, among other developments.


Under his leadership, the Archdiocese made Catholic education more accessible through the Instituto de Caceres founded in Goa, San Jose, Magarao and Caramoan, in addition to the parochial schools in Naga City, two in Pili (San Antonio and San Jose), Bula, and Nabua. Moreover, the Archdiocese now operates the St. Bridget School in Buhi, Camarines Sur.


Vocation promotion and priestly formation have been strengthened with the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary offering junior and senior high classes. Following the K-12 curriculum, the Senior High School offers the General Academic Strand which includes Introduction to Philosophy and other courses in Journalism in preparation for the Major Seminary. In 2020, the pre-college seminary, after years of hiatus. has once again welcomed young men for a year of formation and discernment, prior to their study of Philosophy.


In 2014, the CBCP-designated Year of the Laity, the Archbishop convened a Congress of the Laity which resulted in the crafting of a Vision and Mission statement. The Congress led parishes and religious organizations to take a closer look at the laity as active participants in, and not as passive recipients of, pastoral programs.


To promote the devotion to St. Joseph, in connection with Pope Francis’ declaration of 2021 as Year of St.Joseph, Archbishop Tria Tirona decreed the Archdiocesan Shrine at San Jose, Camarines Sur and the parish churches with the title St. Joseph, at Palsong, Bula, Cagliliog and Tamban, both in Tinambac, as pilgrimage sites with indulgences under the usual conditions.


As the Philippines celebrates the 500th Year of Christianity, the Archbishop’s episcopal motto “Christi Sumus’ (We belong to Christ) serves as a timely reminder.


In his column for Makisumaro, the quarterly newsletter of SKK (Saradit na Kristyanong Komunidad) – Caceres, he wrote, “Christi Sumus is inspired by St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 14, verse 9. The overriding theme of Romans 14 is to live and die for Christ. This chapter specifically speaks of Christian understanding and tolerance. Likewise, it warns of the evil of rash judgment and exclusion of others. Our being true believers of Jesus lies not in our personality, prestige, power, possessions… We are true disciples when ‘we belong to Christ’ (Christi sumus) and live His teachings.”


Prior to his pastorship of the Archdiocese, he was the Bishop of Infanta in the Quezon province from 2003 to 2012. Earlier, he was appointed apostolic administrator of Malolos in January 1996 and served as Bishop the Diocese of Malolos from 1996 to 2003.


Born in Sampaloc, Manila, he completed his elementary and secondary education at Centro Escolar University in 1952 and 1958, respectively. He took political science at San Beda College, from 1962 to 1965, before he entered San Carlos Seminary in Makati to finish Philosophy in 1968. He completed Theology at Mt. Carmel Carmelite Monastery, in Haifa, Israel in 1970, and received his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Institutio di Spiritualita in Rome in 1975. He was ordained priest on April 21, 1974 (Rome). Thereafter, he served the Carmelite order in various capacities. From being the Novice Director (1976 – 1978), to Postulant Director (1979), to Superior of the Carmelite Community in New Manila (1981), he became the Carmelite Provincial Superior of the Philippine Province in 1992 until his episcopal ordination on December 29, 1994 (Manila Cathedral).


At CBCP, he helmed the Episcopal Commission on Youth (1995 to 2005), the Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (2001 to 2003) and more recently, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas. NASSA Caritas is CBCP’s humanitarian, development and advocacy arm. He


In March 2019, he received his Doctorate Degree in Humanities, honoris causa from Ateneo de Naga University. As stated in the citation, the honorary degree recognizes “his commitment to spread the faith, to uplift the Filipinos especially those in the peripheries and for empowering the youth and the laity in spreading the Word of God.”


In his address during the conferment rites, he recalled how he wanted to “continue the military tradition of the Tria Tirona clan, the original Magdalo faction of the Katipuneros of Kawit, Cavite.” His great grandfathers were “generals during the Cavite revolution against the Spanish colonizers.” But from being a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), he said a new ROTC emerged – Rolando Octavus Tirona Carmelite.


This “new ROTC” has blessed the Archdiocese of Caceres with a Spiritual Father known for his wisdom, wit and warmth. Born on the day the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Mary Magdalene, Archbishop Tria Tirona’s birthday is certainly a reason for thanksgiving and a source of joy for the faithful.


Archbishop plants Pili Tree at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary to mark his 75th birthday. It’s shall be called the Archbishop’s Tree.