PILGRIMS and devotees filled the shrine of late Cebu Archbishop Teofilo Camomot as they wrote their prayer petitions and kissed his tomb in Carcar City on Thursday, March 2, a day before his 103rd birthday.
Camomot’s remains were buried in a shrine built inside the Daughters of Saint Therese Mother House dormitory in Barangay Valladolid, Carcar City, after they were exhumed from the city's public cemetery in 2009.
Fr. Mhar Vincent Balili, vice-postulator of Camomot's cause for sainthood, said the remains were exhumed after the Daughters of Saint Teresa petitioned for the opening of a cause for Camomot's possible beatification (a dead person is declared blessed) and canonization (declared saint).
Vatican approved the petition in 2010 and it was Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal who formed the commission to look into Camomot's possible beatification. Vidal was also one of those who led the exhumation and found out the Camomot's body was incorrupt 21 years after his death in 1988.
"Ang exhumation part na sa diocesan process in order to establish that he really existed... Pag-open sa diocesan process, gi-exhume pod ang iyang lawas," said Fr. Balili.
He said the diocesan process, which involves interviews with witnesses, gathering of Camomot's written documents, and assessment of his writings, ended last March 2.
"Nahuman na na nato...and then si Fr. Samson Silloriquez, OAR, postulator for Camomot's cause and who is based in Rome, brought the documents to Congregation of Saints in Rome," he said.
Assessment of the results will then take place, and once approved, a thesis or dissertation will be created to prove that Camomot has "heroic virtues." The thesis will be submitted to Vatican for study, and results of the study will be passed to the Pope for approval.
Camomot will be declared "venerable" once the Pope approves the results, and a miracle is needed for the archbishop to be declared "blessed," said Fr. Balili.
He said it usually takes five years for the Church to prove a miracle, and another miracle will be needed for Camomot to be canonized or declared a saint.
VISIT: Archbishop Teofilo Camomot’s Official Website
Fr. Balili said they have interviewed 45 witnesses from Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo who can testify about Camomot's miracles.
One of those living witnesses is Estrellita Quijano, 69, a devotee from Carcar City, who said her daughter-in-law, who was sick and vomiting blood, was healed after she prayed to Camomot two years ago.
“Mag sige siya'g suka og dugo sa una... gidala-dala nako sya ni Monsignor (Camomot). Ampo ni Monsignor kay motabang na. Mao nang madala rag sige'g ampo ni Monsignor naayo ang iyahang sakit (She used to vomit blood... I brought her to Monsignor’s tomb and asked her to pray to him since he is very helpful. After several prayers to Monsignor, she was cured from her illness),” said Quijano, who paid a visit to Camomot's tomb on March 2.
Another devotee, a catechist from Bulak, Dumanjug, claimed to have also been healed by Camomot.
Rufina Camaso, 55, said she was cured from her goiter after she prayed to Camomot last year. She added that she was not able to have herself checked because she had no money.
READ: Nun sleeps on dead cleric’s bed, gets healed
Sister Rosa Magapan, one of the persons who pushed for Camomot's beatification, said she is one of the lucky people who got a chance to personally meet the late archbishop.
Magapan described Camomot as a soft-spoken, humble, and a holy man.
“Even when he once was a archbishop before, but still he was not a very proud man. He's very simple, very humble. And he loves the poor people around. He used to give money, he used to give food, he used to give rice, to the extent that [he has] no more money in the pocket. Always giving out, always giving out,” she said.
She said the process to have Camomot beatified is already a miracle.
"For me, ang kanang pag-work out sa iyang (the process of his) beatification, that's already a miracle, I consider that a miracle," she said.
Magapan said she observed several priests rubbing their handkerchiefs on Camomot's tomb.
“Ang mga pari nagkuha sa mga panyo, pahid, pahid... Ang mga tao pwerte bilib gyud kaayo sa holiness ni Monsignor (The priests took their handkerchiefs and rubbed them on the tomb... The people really believed in the holiness of Monsignor),” she said.
She said Camomot’s deeds will forever live in the hearts of few people who have known him personally.
Prayer for the process of beatification of the servant of God Bishop Teofilo Camomot
Camomot was born on March 3, 1914 in Cogon, Carcar. He died in a vehicular accident in Barrio Baho, San Fernando, Cebu on September 27, 1988.
The congregation of the Daughters of Saint Therese has organized the Handuraw 2017, a series of events to be held for his 103rd birthday. It runs from February 21 to March 3. (Jo Ann Sablad/Jai Ramirez/LMY/SunStar Philippines)