“I could never have imagined one of my auxiliary bishops becoming a canonized saint,” said His Eminence, Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cebu. He was referring to the late Archbishop Teofilo Bastida Camomot who died in 1987. Cardinal Vidal is no stranger to saints. He was a close confidant of St. John Paul II and hosted St. Teresa of Calcutta during her trips to Cebu.
The occasion last March 2 was the formal closing ceremony of the archdiocesan process for the cause of the canonization of the Servant of God. “I cannot accept Archbishop Camomot to be my coadjutor Archbishop,” Cardinal Vidal recalls Archbishop Hayes, then Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, as telling him, “or he might end up selling the entire Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.”
Archbishop Hayes had reason to worry. The generosity of Servant of God Teofilo Camomot to the poor was relentless and unapologetic. A local church going bankrupt was not an empty possibility.
The aforementioned ceremony began with the singing of Veni Creator Spiritus to invoke the help of the Holy Spirit. Present were members of the Archdiocesan Tribunal headed by His Excellency, Most Rev. Jose S. Palma of Cebu. Three copies of documents of the diocesan process were authenticated and sealed with the bulla of Archbishop Palma. Two copies were entrusted to Fr. Samson S. Silloriquez, OAR, Father-Postulator, to be submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome.
The documents contained written testimonies from those who attest to the holiness of Teofilo. These are needed to prove that he indeed had “heroic virtues,” as explained by the Father Postulator, before being recognized as venerable. After this would be the authenticated miracles before being declared “Blessed” and “Saint.”
Fr. Silloriquez, a native of Iloilo, then cautioned the group to avoid using the word “miracle” loosely. Any alleged blessings or divine intervention received through the intercession of the Servant of God are best referred to as “grace received” not as “miracle.” An overzealous and untimely reference to Teofilo as “saint” may even delay the Vatican process. This is no popular acclamation but a cautious and prudent process that listens to devil advocates.
The Archbishop’s bed, to which some overzealous devotees attribute healing qualities, has been stored beyond the reach of devotees. Faith in God alone must remain.
The ceremony ended with the song, O Maria Reyna sa Pilipinas, a fitting tribute the motherly heart that teaches us to put Jesus first in all things.
The ushers looked dapper in their attires accented by a diagonal sash identifying their roles. With their well-kept hair, the mostly female ushers from the Redemptorist parish in Cebu exuded an air of dignity and efficiency as they ushered in groups of children to the chapel of the St. Pope John 23 Minor Seminary in Mabolo, Cebu City.
The Mass began with well-trained voices of the youth choir of Our Lady of Consolation parish in Laray. The mostly-children congregation exploded with robust singing and acclamations. After the Eucharistic celebration, the children went in orderly fashion to the ground floor of the building for a program and a meal.
This was a reunion of about 400 street children and other urban poor children who received first communion during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress a little more than a year ago in Cebu.
Close to 15 groups, which have a continuing apostolate to street children, came together for the event. The contact persons had been meeting since January and had organized themselves into committees. Such synergy resulted in a hearty lunch augmented by five “lechon”. There were prizes for games as well as take-home bags containing rice and other goodies for their families. Many children went home bringing lunch bags for their families.
It was very heartening to see that the groups had put their “best foot forward”. There was even a contingent from the Labang (“Lahat Bangon”) community-based rehab program from Barangay Subangdako, Mandaue City. They had prepared the place and were also charged with cleaning up after the affair. Recovering addicts were playing “kuya” and “ate” to street children!
After lunch, all restraint broke loose. Street children will be street children. Happily, there were dance and song numbers that easily drew the attention of the children as they imitated the moves and tunes. Then came the awarding of prizes for coloring. A Manila donor, Vicky Ortega, had donated anti-stress coloring books of doodles. Awardees were for the “most dramatic,” “most peaceful,” “most joyful,” and “most inspiring.” A local artist who has national and even international recognition to his name, Ber Hermoso, did the judging.
Doing our best is its own reward. And when it is for the poor, the rewards are heavenly.