St. Ezekiel Moreno, patron of cancer patients

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By Carlos Legaspi Jr.

Questions that Matter

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


“O God, in St. Ezekiel Moreno, you have given us a model of fidelity to the Gospel and of a pastor according to the Sacred Heart of Your Son. Grant us, through his intercession, that we might give ourselves fully to Him by joyfully living our Christian witness and consecrating ourselves to the service of Your Church. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
            
August 19, the whole Catholic community celebrates the feast of St. Ezekiel Moreno.
          
But who is St. Ezekiel? Why is his name heard in Negros?
          
He was born in Alfaro, La Rioja, Spain on April 9, 1848. He was born on a household that is full of faith. His early years were seemingly ordinary and uneventful. An obedient son, a loving brother, a good companion to his friends and a diligent student was Ezekiel.
         
Following the example of an older brother, he entered the recollect congregation of the Augustinian Order in Monteagudo.  After his seminary studies and profession of his simple vows, he and 17 other young friars set sail for the Philippine Islands, landing in Manila on February 1870.

On the 5th of June 1871, he was ordained a recollect priest and embarked upon an enthusiastic ministry among the island people which lasted for over 15 years. He learned his Tagalog in Mindoro. He had his missionary works in Mindoro, Palawan  and Luzon.  He spent sometime in Talisay with Fr. Cuenca, the famous healer.
          
Stories were told that in Palawan, St. Ezekiel had dug a well which miraculously healed the members of the community.
          
He was then recalled to serve a larger community in 1885, where he was made as Rector of the College and novitiate in Monteagudo for three years. In 1888, he was assigned in Columbia, where a greater challenge was posted. He had to restore the Augustinian Recollect order in the place and reactivate the old mission Province of Candelaria with his appointment as Prior Provincial. The friars had revolutionized their missionary zeal in the difficult plains of Casanare, reaping much fruit in a brief period of time. The sleeping faith of the people were awakened by the zeal of St. Ezekiel.
          
In 1893, he was named Apostolic Vicar of Casanare. He became the model of a pastor for his fidelity and for his apostolic zeal. To the great satisfaction of the religious and civic authorities who, together with the people, held him in great esteem.
            
In 1896, he was appointed Bishop of the Metropolitan See of  Pasto. During his pastorate there, Columbia was plagued with war from 1899 to 1902. In this difficult situation,   Bishop Moreno proved himself to be a great defender of the Church and a voice of strength and clarity for his people.
          
He fell ill of cancer in 1906 and was advised to return to Spain for medication.   Contrary   to his own desire,   but upon the insistence of his clergy and people of the diocese, he departed to Pasto. On August 19, 1906, the holy man have surrendered his soul to his Creator at the convent of Monteagudo.
           
His body is now interred at Monteagudo, where it remained until 1915 when the process for his canonization began.
            
He was beatified on November 1,1975 and canonized on October 11, 1975 in Santo Domingo on the occasion of the 5th centenary of the evangelization of America.
            
Is there still a St. Ezekiel Moreno in our midst today?
            
St. Ezekiel Moreno, Sts. Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, Pope St. John Paul II, Mons. John Liu and John Su, and Sir Faraon Lopez, Pray for us.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 20, 2014.

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