THE year 2020 may go down in history as the year of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, but to the Archdiocese of Cebu, it is also a year of thanksgiving and rejoicing as the Catholic Church welcomed nine newly-ordained priests here.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma shared this realization as he was about to ordain nine deacons as priests at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.
“I will call it the day when we rejoice even in the midst of Covid. We also know that Cebu, at one point, was the epicenter (of the pandemic) and yet, today, we gathered,” the prelate said.
“Even if Covid is still around, our hearts are full of rejoicing because Covid will pass, but this celebration will forever be part of our history and the love of God will forever stay,” he added.
To ensure the safety of those who personally attended the celebration, strict health protocols were observed.
Aside from social distancing and the required wearing of facemasks, Palma said each of the candidates for priesthood was only allowed to bring not more than 35 family members, relatives, and guests.
Though the attendees inside the Cathedral were limited, the entire celebration was livestreamed via the official Facebook pages of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and the ‘500 Years of Christianity-Archdiocese of Cebu’.
The 9 newly-ordained priests are: Fr. Leo Lou Arche, Fr. Res Kenneth Arong, Fr. Julrie Camay, Fr. Christian James Mayol, Fr. Rogel Murillo, Fr. Christopher Carl Ompad, Fr. Jonas Yap, Fr. Gilbert Ytang, and Fr. Romel Rey Rosil.
In a message to them, Palma said priesthood was an “imperishable” gift and that they were destined to become priests, who, eventually, would also “consecrate and anoint” the faithful.
Palma thanked their families as it is in the family that vocation is cultivated, he said.
“If Cebu is number 1 in terms of the number of priests, it is because of you, families,” he added.
Palma also said although the people who attended the ordination wore masks, he knew that in their hearts and behind their covered faces, they were smiling as the source of joy is God’s love.
He then encouraged everyone to journey together as the Cebu Archdiocese celebrates the 500th year of Christianity in 2021.
Though the people do not know the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, God’s love will never end, Palma said.