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Filipino archbishop marks 50 years of the priesthood, reflects on Jesus’ ‘healing love’ 

By Mark Luke S. Godoy

A Filipino archbishop focuses on the Lord’s healing love as he marks 50 years of his ordination as a priest. Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, Apostolic Administrator of Caceres, said that although he is far from being a perfect priest, he is proud of his scars as a priest. “I am very proud to say [that] God, out of His merciful love and compassion, has healed me,” he said.

The prelate offered a Thanksgiving Mass for his golden jubilee as a priest on April 21 at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine in Naga City, Philippines.

Archbishop Tirona stressed that the priestly commitment “is not a comfortable life” and calls for proper management of God’s blessings. “The heaviness we often carry in our lives is our own mismanagement of the countless blessings that the Lord has given us,” he explained. “We mismanage friendship, resources, the occasions to be good, [and] the time. But we really want to be serious and ask ourselves what life is all about.” He reminded the faithful to never forget that there is “a God who cares for us [and] loves us” no matter what comes in their lives.

Fr. Luisito Occiano, bishop-elect of the Diocese of Virac, delivered the homily during the Thanksgiving Mass. He saluted Archbishop Tirona’s unwavering dedication for his five decades as a priest and 12 years as Naga archbishop. “He has mastered the art of serving the poor. His love for the clergy abounds. He knows how to make difficult decisions and always has time [for] prayer. [He] has never been afraid to speak the truth in love,” said the bishop-elect.

“You are God’s masterpiece that started in His heart, formed by His hands, and consecrated and offered as a gift to the world,” he added.

Archbishop Tirona was born on July 22, 1946, in Sampaloc Manila. He entered the Order of the Discalced Carmelites on August 15, 1964, solemnly professed vows on February 10, 1968, and was ordained priest on April 21, 1974, in Rome. In his years as a Carmelite priest, he became a novice director, postulant director, superior of the Carmelite community in Manila, and provincial superior of the Philippine province.

He became Auxiliary Bishop of Manila in 1994, Bishop of Malolos in 1996, Bishop-Prelate of Infanta in 2003, and Archbishop of Caceres in 2012.

On February 22, 2024, Pope Francis accepted Archbishop Tirona’s resignation and appointed Daet Bishop Rex Andrew Alarcon as his successor, whose installation and canonical possession are set for May 2.

His episcopal motto is “Christi Sumus,” meaning “We Belong to Christ.”


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