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Legazpi diocese mourns Bishop Sorra’s demise

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Diocese of Legazpi on Jan. 26 suspended all parish activities including work in parish offices as Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon declared the Diocesan Day of Mourning as the body of the late Bishop Jose “Ping” C. Sorra was transferred to his hometown in Virac, Catanduanes on Tuesday afternoon.

Baylon declared Jan. 26 as Diocesan Day of Mourning in areas covered by the Diocese of Legazpi.

“On this day, all parish activities will be suspended and parish offices in the diocese will be closed. It is with deep sadness that we as a diocese mourn the death of our beloved Bishop emeritus Jose “Mamo Ping” Crisologo Sorra. D.D.,” Baylon said.

A farewell mass for the late bishop was held at St. Gregory the Great Cathedral in Legazpi City officiated by Baylon and was attended by Bishop emeritus Lucilo “Liloy” Quiambao, the clergies, nuns, lay people, parishioners including provincial officials in Albay led by Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara.

The farewell mass was also attended by ex-Congressman Fernando Gonzalez, Rep. Fernando “Didi” Cabredo, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, and other officials of Albay as they joined and pay their last respect to beloved prelate emeritus.

Farewell mass for Bishop Sorra held at St. Gregory the Great Cathedral of the Diocese of Legazpi.

A simultaneous ringing of church bells at 12:00 noon was done across the province as a sign of gratitude for remembering Mamo Ping in prayers.

After the farewell mass, a send-off motorcade from Albay Cathedral to Tabaco City Port via Sabloyon passing through the parishes of Daraga, Malabog, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao, Batang, San Antonio, San Vicente and Tabaco was done.

As the motorcade passes by these parishes, they were asked to ring their church bells. Mamo Ping's body was brought to Catanduanes through a ferry boat from Tabaco City seaport to San Andres seaport in Catanduanes before transporting his remains in Virac town.

Sorra away early morning at the Tanchuling Hospital in Legazpi due to respiratory failure secondary to pulmonary embolism on Jan. 21 at the age of 91. He was the oldest Filipino bishop in the Philippines according to Baylon.

Sorra was born in Malinao Albay on March 9, 1929 to Gabriel de Leon-Sorra and Catalina Rojas Crisologo. He came from the Arcilla clan of Virac, Catanduanes.

He took his high school at Holy Rosary Minor Seminary in Naga City and studied Philosophy and Science in Education in UST, Manila. He pursued his master’s degree in Science in Education in Fordham University, New York, USA in 1970 and Doctor of Humanities is UST, Manila in 1999.

Sorra was ordained a priest for the diocese in 1956. He was appointed as the first Bishop of Virac on May 27, 1974 of the newly created Diocese of Virac and was ordained bishop on Aug. 28, 1974.

At this time, he established the youth apostolate in the country. In 1986, he served as the first chairman of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on youth after it was created. With clean pastoral vision, he shepherded the faithful of Virac for 19 years.

On March 1, 1993 at the age of 63 he was appointed as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Legazpi. Mamo Ping took his seat as the fourth prelate of Legazpi where he served for 12 years as the Titular Bishop of the Diocese and made his retirement at the age of 76 last April 1, 2005.

His principal motto was “Fiat” expresses his generous desire and surrender to follow God’s will with the poor and the youth as the apple of his eye, Baylon said.

He drew up the concept of his episcopal “coast-of-arms”, expressing the pastoral priority needs of the diocese for an inclusive, total and full development of its people.

His principal consecrator was Archbishop Julio Cardinal Rosales of the Archdiocese of Cebu and he belonged to the lineage of the Titular Patriarch of Constantinople, Cardinal Rebiba.

He set up a welfare plan for the clergy and built Bethlehem Pastoral and Retreat Center, an edifice for continuing formation of the lay and the clergy. He caused the celebration of the historic First Diocese Synod of Legazpi in 2001.

He also published books entitled Crumbs, a series of reflections on his pastoral life and ministry. The proceeds of these books were meant to help indigent seminarians and out of school youth seeking vocational or academic courses.

After his retirement, he resided at the Bethlehem Pastoral Center along with Bishop emeritus Lucilo “Liloy” Quiambao in Sogod, Bacacay town.

Mamo Ping focused his time on the pastoral care of his brethren deprived of liberty in the diocese according to Baylon.

The St. Raphael the Archangel Parish led by Fr. Dave Ramoso said in its post that prior to Bishop Sorra’s death, the prelate frequently visited the St. Raphael Parish in Legazpi City after the three typhoons pummeled in Bicol so that he can contact people overseas to help rebuild the houses of residents surrounding in Sogod village in Bacacay town.

Fr. Dave said that the prelate never stopped shepherding the people affected by a series of natural calamities until the last months of his life.

“You were a shepherd who cared so much for your sheep,” the St. Raphael the Archangel Parish post in its social media page said. Bishop Sorra’s wake will be done for a week in Virac.

He will be buried on Feb. 1, 2021 at 9:00 am in Virac town.


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