New Iba bishop’s marching order: Keep the churches ‘clean’

New Iba bishop’s marching order: Keep the churches ‘clean’

Bishop Bartolome Santos speaks during his installation as the new bishop of the Iba diocese at the Saint Augustine Cathedral in Iba City May 25. TV MARIA SCREEN GRAB

By Roy Lagarde

May 25, 2018

Manila, Philippines

The new bishop of the Diocese of Iba urged the faithful to treat their churches with respect and keep them “clean”.

That was the first message Bishop Bartolome Santos Jr., preached as the new spiritual leader of thousands of Catholics across Zambales province.

“There are many definitions of clean and I will leave it up to all of you to expound,” Santos said during his installation Mass at the St. Augustine Cathedral May 25.

The church must be kept clean and neat at all times, according to him, “because that’s the most beautiful place where we can gather and meet together, in God’s house”.

“Beautiful or not, old or new, if our church is clean, we know that our God of mercy and compassion will always be with us,” he said.

Santos, a priest from the Malolos diocese praised for his pastoral care and administrative experience, was installed as the fifth bishop of Iba.

While he did not deliver the homily for the service, Santos assured during his first address that he is going to do his best to serve the public.

The bishop also asked the faithful to pray for him and the clergy that they will strive to live their mission even during moments of weakness and anxiety.

“Please love us your priests despite our shortcomings,” he appealed.

Santos, 50, was appointed by Pope Francis back in February. He was ordained to the episcopacy on April 30.

The diocese has been without a bishop since October 2014 when Archbishop Florentino Lavarias was installed as head of the Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga.

About a hundred other bishops, priests, religious and more than two thousand well-wishers filled the cathedral throughout the entire ceremony with Lavarias as the installing prelate.

In his homily, the archbishop reminded the congregation that priestly ministry is about Jesus.

“It is Jesus who is the essence of our very own vocations as priest,” said Lavarias.

“Let us continue to pray for Bishop Bart not only so that he can do many things but for him to be more like Jesus,” he added.