Nuncio urges Dumaguete diocese to preserve religious heritage

Nuncio urges Dumaguete diocese to preserve religious heritage

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, is accompanied by Bishop Julito Cortes during his first pastoral visit to the Diocese of Dumaguete on Oct. 28. PHOTO FROM DYWC FACEBOOK PAGE

By Ryan Sorote

October 30, 2019

Dumaguete City

Papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia has stressed the importance of cultural heritage conservation in his first visit to the Diocese of Dumaguete on Monday.

Caccia visited at least two historical churches that are instrumental in the growth of the diocese.

The nuncio first visited the St. James the Greater Parish in Tanjay City, the oldest church in the entire Negros island.

The church was established as a mission area by the Augustinians on June 11, 1580, a date which is also special for the Italian archbishop.

“The 11th of June means also something for me. Because I was ordained priests on that day. God had his own plan. That’s why I am here!” Caccia said.

After finding a personal connection with the parish, he encouraged parishioners to keep their religious roots alive through the help of the Museo Eclesiastico de Tanjay that he inaugurated and blessed.

Housed in the museum is a collection of more than 300 religious artifacts, some dating from the early 1580s.

Caccia said the museum is not just about the past but keeping the values of the past alive for future generations to share.

The best treasures are the gospel, the sacrament, and a Christ-centered community, he added.

From Tanjay, Caccia also visited the St. Augustine of Hippo Parish in Bacong town, wherein he shared the parish’s connection to his diocese of origin in Milan, Italy.

St. Ambrose was the bishop of Milan in the time of St. Augustine who was converted and baptized by him. Augustinian missionaries were first to evangelize Negros a few years after Cebu.

“We have a strong relation between your parish and my diocese of origin,” Caccia said.

He then encouraged the faithful to “cultivate their cultural and ecclesiastical roots for the better future.”

Bishop Julito Cortes said that as the representative of Pope Francis to the Philippines, the nuncio’s visit to Dumaguete can be considered as the visit of the pontiff himself.

“By being a representative of Pope Francis, he carries with him the blessing of the Holy Father, his solidarity and expression of union and solitude of the Holy Father in the particular Church of Dumaguete,” he said.

Bishop Cortes currently heads the Committee on Cultural Heritage of the Church of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Aside from the two churches, Caccia also visited the St. Joseph Seminary College and the St. John Marie Vianney Home for retired and elderly priests.

The nuncio also visited the Carmelite Monastery, the Mater Ecclesiae Bundling that would house the propaedeutic program of the seminary; and the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral Parish where he celebrated Mass.

Caccia’s visit ended with a testimonial dinner with members of the clergy, the board of consultors, and the religious men and women.

The nuncio flew back to Manila on Tuesday after attending the 155th founding anniversary of St. Paul’s University Dumaguete.

Caccia is expected to be back in the diocese for the 400th founding anniversary of the Dumaguete cathedral on March 15, 2020.