Seminary installs bust of Ilocano bishop being pushed for sainthood
Nueva Segovia Archbishop Emeritus Ernesto Salgado blesses a bust of the Servant of God, Alfredo Verzosa, at the chapel of the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan City on March 16, 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF FR. EMAN QUINTOS
By CBCP News
March 18, 2019
A theology seminary in Ilocos Sur has initiated a unique means of paying tribute to the Servant of God Alfredo Verzosa, whose sainthood is being pushed.
The Immaculate Conception School of Theology of Vigan has decided to install a statue of the first bishop from Northern Luzon.
On Saturday, March 16, a bust of Verzosa was installed inside the seminary as a way to promote the cause of his sainthood.
The image of Verzosa was enshrined at the seminary chapel after a Mass presided over by Nueva Segovia Archbishop Emeritus Ernesto Salgado.
During the celebration, 19 seminarians from different dioceses of northern Luzon were also instituted to the ministry of acolyte.
Archbishop Salgado later blessed the image and exhorted everyone to pray that Bishop Verzosa be raised soon to the honors of the altar.
Verzosa was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on December 9, 1877 to a wealthy family of the Spanish City’s “Gremio de Mestizos” (Mestizo Section).
He entered the Seminary of Vigan before the Philippine Revolution against Spain, towards the end of the 19th Century. He later left the seminary to pursue a secular course at the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán in Manila which to him was caused by a “repugnance to the priesthood.”
Historians presumed that this negative sentiment might have been caused by the injustices against Filipinos during the time.
History tells that by 1896, Spanish friars tortured nine clerics who were implicated of active involvement in free masonry and the revolution. They were also humiliated in front of the seminarians that they may not follow their example. The clerics were later found innocent.
While a student in Letran, Verzosa felt a sentiment of restlessness, a Dominican friar advised him to return to the seminary to attain his peace.
In one of his messages, the bishop recounted that while in Manila, he was told by her elder sister about their mother waking up at night, kneeling and crying as she prayed, which to the presumption of the daughter was for the vocation of the son who was absent from the seminary.
Verzosa attributed his priestly vocation to the prayers of his mother. He remarked, “Nonetheless, my mother won and she had the joy of seeing me a priest and later on, a bishop.”
Verzosa was the first native Filipino to have become a bishop from the University of Sto. Tomás.
As a priest of Nueva Segovia, he fought for the preservation of Roman Catholicism amid the Aglipayan schism at the onset of the 20th century.
At age 39, he was made bishop of Lipa in 1916, which at that time covered the provinces of Batangas, Quezón, Laguna, Mindoro and Marinduque.
On horseback and traversing the seas, Verzosa visited parishes of his territory with zeal. He believed in the importance of catechism, an inspiration from the pastoral problem he encountered as priest in the north.
From this, he founded the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart (MCSH) in 1923. This would later inspire his Auxiliary Bishop, the Venerable Alfredo Obviar to found another congregation of the same charism and name in a much later time.
He, together with his Auxiliary, became committed in the pastoral care of the faithful, taking the courage even in front of the perils of the World War II.
Towards the end of the 1940’s, there was an alleged apparition of the Virgin at Lipa Carmel with reports of showers of rose petals. This was later judged as having no supernatural basis by the Church. With obedience, the two bishops followed the disposition of the Church on the matter, up to their death.
Verzosa is remembered as a charitable shepherd, solicitous to the needs of the poor, strong with his adherence to the faith despite perils and never lost his hope to God even in front of intense suffering. He died in 1954.
The process for his beatification and canonization is on its way at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The “Positio,” the official document of the Cause is being prepared for the review of experts in Rome.
Archbishop Salgado committed his retirement years in promoting the Cause for Beatification and Canonization of Verzosa.
For several years now, the archbishop goes to parishes in the region and abroad celebrating Masses and giving talks to promote the sainthood cause.