Diocese pays tribute to former Legazpi Bishop’s demise

By Myrna Bermudo


Former Legazpi Bishop Jose C. Sorra, D.D., died past Wednesday midnight of January 21 at the age of 91.


Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon, D.D., said Bishop Sorra died “due to respiratory failure secondary to pulmonary embolism.”


The announcement was made through the Facebook page Diyosesis kan Legazpi.

Legazpi Bishop Emeritus Jose Crisologo Sorra, D.D. have started the youth apostolate in the Philippines when he was bishop of Virac. He served as the first chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth after it was established in 1986. (Photo: Leo Nase Balaguer)


January 26, 2021 was declared as a diocesan day of mourning wherein parish activities are suspended and parish offices are closed in the Diocese of Legazpi.


Bishop Sorra was named the fourth bishop of Legazpi where he served until his retirement in 2005.


Priests, relatives, friends and residents of Albay, Catanduanes and the rest of Bicolanos, turn to social media to express their gratitude, prayers and condolences to the Diocese of Legazpi as it mourns for the passing of Bishop Sorra. Some shared their fond memories of the retired bishop.


The Diocese of Legaspi communicated in its media platforms the schedule of wake and funeral services for the late +Bishop Jose Crisologo Sorra from January 21 to 26.


Social media subscribers listened to and was united with the Eucharistic Celebrations which was live streamed from the Legazpi Cathedral.


A farewell mass was celebrated by the Diocese of Legazpi at the St. Gregory the Great Cathedral on January 26, 2021. After the mass, the remains was transported to Virac, Catanduanes. Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon was the main celebrant and preacher. He was joined by priests, religious and laity from Albay and neighbouring provinces of Sorsogon and Camarines Sur. All observed health protocols by wearing face masks, face shields and observing physical distancing.


Bishop Baylon gave tribute to Bishop Sorra as he led the farewell mass at the Legazpi Cathedral on January 26. The mass was live- streamed in the social media account of the Diocese of Legazpi.


Bishop Baylon, recalling his high school days, said, that as a high school principal, Bishop Sorra led the students to academic excellence. He was his principal at St. Gregory the Great Minor Seminary at Panal, Tabaco, Albay.


“When he was bishop of Legazpi, he was instrumental in establishing institutions who will serve and benefit the least, the last and the lost” Bishop Baylon added.


Bishop Sorra pioneered the establishment of Don Bosco Agro-Mechanical Technology Center (Legazpi), Inc., an agricultural school, managed by the Salesian Society of Don Bosco. He invited the Baptistine sisters to establish a home for orphans, the Holy Cross Children’s Home in San Antonio, Tabaco City. He requested the services of the Brothers of Charity to help mentally challenged persons through the Holy Face Rehabilitation Center for Mental Health which he helped establish. Furthermore, he invited missionary fathers to assist stroke victims, autistic and psychologically challenged children now housed at Sagrada Familia Center, says Bishop Baylon in his homily.


“He saw to it that there are entrepreneural institutions who will cater to the marginalized enterprising families in the Bicol Region. He was the founder of SEDP- Simbag sa Pag-Asenso, Inc., a microfinance NGO” Bishop Baylon added.


“Bishop Sorra taught us to see in our midst the church of and for the poor. A church who responds to the needs of the poor. A church who gives hope to persons who are often neglected by providing them opportunities” Legazpi Bishop Baylon concludes in his homily.


The Diocese of Virac live-streamed the Eucharistic Celebration as the island province welcomes the remains of its first bishop in the afternoon of January 26. At the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral, a welcome mass was led by Virac Bishop Manolo de los Santos, D.D. together with the priests, religious and laity of the diocese. Funeral mass is set on February 1, 2021. He will be buried at the compound of the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. Bishop Sorra was appointed as the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Virac in 1974.


Bishop Jose C. Sorra, D.D. was born on March 9, 1929, in Malinao. Albay. He was ordained a priest on March 17, 1956. On May 27, 1974, he was appointed first bishop of Virac, Catanduanes when it was created as a diocese. In 1993, he was named the fourth bishop of Legazpi, where he served until his retirement in 2005, CBCP posted in their news site.


In 1972, he served as Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines until he was appointed as the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Virac in 1974.


Bishop Sorra was also known to have started the youth apostolate in the Philippines, which he established when he was bishop of Virac. In the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, he served as the first chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth after its creation in 1986, CBCP added in its news website.


“Come and visit me at Bethlehem where I am having my PHD!” The bishop emeritus would often say to his friends and acquaintances. For Bishop Jose C. Sorra, D.D., “PhD” means Preparing for a Happy Death at Bethlehem Pastoral and Retreat Center at Bacacay, Albay, where he spent his life as a retired bishop.


Now, he has been granted his “P.H.D.” at the age of 91.


“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)