New Naval bishop to flock: ‘I will walk with you’

New Naval bishop to flock: ‘I will walk with you’

Palo Archdiocesan Vicar-General Msgr. Erlito Maraya, PhD (second from left), discusses the preparation for the separate ordination and installation of then Naval Bishop-elect Msgr. Rex Ramirez (third from left) on Jan. 9 and 12, respectively. EILEEN BALLESTEROS

PALO, Leyte – In a press conference, a few days before his ordination today, Jan. 8, the new Naval Bishop Rex Ramirez promised to give the faithful under his care the gift of his presence and pastoral care.

“I will go there, I will be there and I will walk with you,” said the prelate, who will
be installed Naval Bishop on Jan. 12 at the Cathedral of Naval by Palo Achbishop John Forrosuelo Du.

Ramirez said he will not be the kind of church leader who will be swayed by political pressure or influenced by squabbles among political leaders and local chief executives.

“There are officials whom I know do not meet eye-to-eye. My role as a bishop is clear to me. I will stand by what the Church stands for. I am there for the Church and … as the Church’s representative,” stressed the second Bishop of Naval.

Bishops from Palo

He also said he might be introducing into the Diocese of Naval, which comprises 16 parishes, some programs similar to those in the Diocese of Palo, among them the construction of a formation house for priests and the religious sisters

When asked about a possible reshuffle of the clergy, Ramirez said he will have to get to know the priests of Naval first before giving them new assignments.

He will likewise continue to strengthen the Naval diocese’s ties with other dioceses in the Archdiocese of Palo and plans to regularly call for presbyterial meetings with his clergy for more effective coordination.

“I will begin with the end in mind. I know Archbishop Du will support Naval,” said Ramirez.

“This confirms my faith in the Lord,” said the prelate, who now heads the youngest diocese in the Palo archdiocese.

Fr. Gilbert Urbina, Palo archdiocesan liturgist, called Ramirez’ ordination ”a time for our spiritual gratitude,” noting that Ramirez is fourth cleric from the Diocese of Palo to installed bishop.

The three others are Zamboanga Archbishop Lino Gonzaga, then Palo Archbishop Cipriano Urgel, and retired Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medrozo.

In 2015, Pope Francis also appointed Fr. Oscar Jaime Florencio, a formator from the Archdiocese of Palo and former rector of St. John the Evangelist School of Theology, as Auxilliary Bishop of Cebu.

For these graces, Urbina said, “There is indulgence for us.”

Bad roads

Meanwhile in a press conference held Friday at the Chancery of the Archdiocese, Msgr. Erlito Maraya, Palo archdiocesan vicar-general, said the decision to hold Ramirez’ ordination and installation separately is due to the poor road conditions leading to Naval, capital town of Biliran.

Naval was badly hit during by Tropical Storm Urduja early in December last year.

Roads and bridges in Biliran were destroyed, making travel time to Naval longer, via a circumferential to Caibiran, Biliran.

According to Maraya, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Gabriele Giordano Caccia could not attend the ordination of Ramirez, which was presided over by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, due to a prior commitment with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Naval Bishop Emeritus Felomino Bactol, the first Bishop of Naval will continue to serve in the Diocese of Naval as it administrator. Created in 1988, Naval is a suffragan diocese, which covers the whole Biliran Island Province and the towns of Calubian, Leyte, San Isidro and Tabango. CBCPNews