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New Archbishop of Caceres installed by Papal Nuncio

By Myrna S. Bermudo

After the reading of the Apostolic Letter (Papal Bull) of appointment, Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, D.D responded: “My dear people of God, I thank the Lord for this gift of serving the Archdiocese of Caceres not by any merit of mine, but out of the abundance of God’s grace alone. I accept the Apostolic Care of the Local Church of Caceres. I promise to serve faithfully as a loving father, gentle Shepherd, wise teacher and steward of the mysteries of Christ.”

Archbishop Alarcon, the new archbishop of Caceres, was installed by Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown, D.D., at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on May 2. He is the 35th Bishop and 5th Archbishop of Caceres.

Fr. Darius Romualdo, the Chancellor, read the Apostolic Letter (Papal Bull) of appointment for the Archbishop-designate of Caceres showed it to the Bishops, to the Clergy and to the faithful. Thereafter, the assembly of more than two thousand faithful inside and outside the cathedral sang the acclamation “THANKS BE TO GOD.”

Archbishop Brown presented the pastoral staff to Archbishop Alarcon as a sign of entrusting the pastoral care of the Archdiocese. Then, the Nuncio led Alarcon to sit on the “Cathedra,” to signal that Alarcon has taken formal possession of the Archdiocese of Caceres. The congregation welcomed him with loud applause.

Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, D.D., the 5th Archbishop of Caceres was installed by Most Rev. Charles John J. Brown, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines on 02 May 2024 at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John Evangelist, Pilgrim City of Naga. (Archdiocese of Caceres photo)

The homage to the new archbishop followed. The entire Clergy of Caceres and the designated representatives of religious communities, civic and government leaders, and various sectors gave homage and offer a sign of obedience and reverence to the new Archbishop. This symbolizes the flock’s formal acceptance of the new shepherd. A hymn inspired by Alarcon’s episcopal motto “SERVUS TUUS SUM” (SUROGOON MO AKO) composed by Fr. Noel Alforte and Ronald Dolor, was the homage song.

In the missal provided by the liturgy committee headed by Fr. Glenn Ruiz, the rite of Canonical Possession was in the context of the celebration of the Eucharist. Intending to catechize the people and the live streaming viewers, simple commentaries and explanation were given in every part of the rite.

At the concluding part of the mass, a message was delivered by the Apostolic Nuncio after which Alarcon gave his thanksgiving message.

Archbishop Brown reminded all that “the vocation that Jesus gives to everyone, but also to those who seem to be in the highest places is service. Serving others, humbling oneself.”

Jose Cardinal Advincula Jr., D.D., Archbishop of Manila, Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem & Palestine, Bikol bishops together with 34 other bishops from various parts of the country graced the occasion. Also present were 115 guest priests who concelebrated. The Archdiocese of Caceres has 236 priests, 175 are in active service.

Prior to the day of the installation, liturgical and civic receptions were accorded to the new archbishop on May 1, feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

A convoy accompanying Bishop Alarcon left Daet after he presided a concelebrated mass at the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral on May 1, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Patron of the Diocese of Daet. It will be remembered that Alarcon was ordained as bishop on March 19, 2019, Solemnity of St. Joseph Husband of Mary Patron of the Universal Church.

With a convoy from the Diocese of Daet, Alarcon was welcomed through the Liturgical reception held at the Parish of St. Dominic of Guzman, Gainza, Camarines Sur. The parish is the first parish church where the convoy passed as Alarcon entered the territory of the Archdiocese of Caceres which has 93 parishes and holds jurisdiction in the third, fourth and fifth congressional districts of Camarines Sur.

In Gainza, he was received by Fr. Joseph Wilfred V. Almoneda, Vicar General, together with Fr. Fernando Catolico, Parish Priest of the St. Dominic de Guzman Parish, and parish priests of the nearby parishes in Naga City. The mayor of Gainza and Fr. Catolico delivered their messages.

Alarcon who holds a licentiate in Church history, which he obtained from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (2001), has for his thesis: “The Status of the Diocese of Caceres during the incumbency of Bishop Francisco Gainza, OP (1862-1879).” Gainza town is named after Bishop Francisco Gainza, OP and has a monument in honor of Bishop Gainza in the town plaza.

After the liturgical reception, Alarcon was led to a motorcade around the major streets of the Pilgrim City of Naga, the seat of the Archdiocese. He proceeded to the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia for the Act of Entrustment to Inâ, Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

The civic reception followed at the Archbishop Legaspi Hall at the Basilica Complex. It was the official welcome given by the Province of Camarines Sur and the City of Naga led by their elected officials. Both the Provincial Governor and the City Mayor gave him symbolic keys to the province and the city, respectively.

A press conference with Archbishop – Designate Alarcon was held at the Pastoral Center of the St. John the Evangelist Parish at 3:30 P.M. It was attended by members of the local media in Camarines Sur.

Asked on what type of leadership he will exercise, Alarcon responded: “As I take Canonical Possession of the Archdiocese of Caceres, the words of Jesus resound ‘I am the Good Shepherd, a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’ A hired man who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees of wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. It is this model of the good shepherd, whom I wish to imitate - a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

This, he repeated in his homily during his installation and canonical possession as the 5th Metropolitan Archbishop of Caceres on May 2.

“Pray for me,” Archbishop Alarcon appealed, as “I thank the Lord for this gift of serving the Archdiocese of Caceres.”


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