Sainthood candidate remembered on 66th death anniversary

Sainthood candidate remembered on 66th death anniversary

Archbishop Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia leads the prayer for the Beatification and Canonization Cause of the Servant of God, Alfredo Verzosa at his tomb in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Vigan June 27. PHOTO BY ARCHIE PERILLO

By Buena Luz

July 1, 2020

Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

A northern Philippine archdiocese held a day of remembrance for the Servant of God, Alfredo Versoza, to mark 66 years since his death.

Archbishop Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia celebrated Mass at the Vigan cathedral on Saturday albeit with a limited assembly amidst government restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In his homily, Peralta recalled the exceptional ministry of the Servant of God in the old Diocese of Lipa where he served for thirty-three long years, offering there his strength and youth.

He stressed the importance of living a holy life like what the Servant of God had emulated in his life.

Bishop Versoza was ordained priest for the then Diocese of Nueva Segovia, where he served for 12 years.

In 1916, he was named bishop of the old Lipa diocese that used to minister the Southern Tagalog provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas (now Quezon), Marinduque and Mindoro.

The bishop is remembered in the region as the staunched promoter of Catholic education, opening catechetical centers and schools. This interest moved him to found the “Religiosas de María de la Enseñanza Cristiana” in 1923, which later renamed as “Misioneras Catequístas del Sagrado Corazón” (Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart).

The Sisters proved to be faithful purveyors of catechism with their mission for the children and catechetical education of adults. It was said that during those years, Lipa diocese was in the golden age of catechism.

This inspired his protégée and later his Auxiliary Bishop, the Venerable Alfredo Obviar to establish his own congregation patterned after Verzosa’s “Missioneras Catequístas” in 1958.

Bishop Verzosa endured the difficult life of the Second World war. He and his Auxiliary brought the people of Lipa to evacuation camps, giving encouragement to the faint-hearted.

He taught the Sisters a prayer to ask for safety during those critical days which goes: “Jesus, Savior of the world, save us, save our land, save the Philippines and the whole world.”

It was commented that “Lipa was blessed to have him as their bishop during those difficult days.”

In this time of the Covid-19 crisis the Sisters are promoting the short prayer for the use of the faithful.

Verzosa’s Cause for Beatification and Canonization was initiated in 2013 by the Nueva Segovia archdiocese, the territory where he died in 1954 and where his remains are entombed.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS) declared that “nothing blocks” (Nihil Obstat) its way in 2014, granting the Cause with Protocol Number 3070.

After the formal closing of the Diocesan Inquiry, the papers were submitted to the CCS in 2016 followed by Decree of Validity issued by the same congregation in 2017. At present, the “Positio,” the extensive report of the Cause is in the process of being written.

The death anniversary Mass was concelebrated by, at least, two priests which included Msgr. Gary Formoso, the cathedral’s Rector and Judge-Delegate during the Diocesan Phase of the Beatification-Canonization Cause.

Meanwhile, other Masses were held outside Vigan commemorating the occasion. One was celebrated in Parañaque City by Archbishop Ernesto Salgado and another in Lipa by Archbishop Ramón Argüelles, Archbishops Emeriti of Nueva Segovia and Lipa, respectively. Both prayed for the hasty advancement of the Beatification-Canonization Cause of the Servant of God.