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Transcript of the Homily of the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. during the Holy Mass Celebrating his 75th Birthday last June 13, 2016 in Santuario De San Paolo, Casa Milan

Bishop
The Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. during the Eucharistic Celebration for his 75th Birthday last June 13, 2016

Dearest…most Reverend Bishops of the Philippines, my brother priests from this Diocese of Novaliches, from, my brother priests from San Fernando La Union and my brother priests from the Diocese of Pagadian, Reverend Sisters, dear seminarians, the lay leaders of our Diocese, the young people here, my brothers and sisters in Christ,

I would like first of all to give you a background of what we have been celebrating the last three days. I have asked the organizers for a some sort of a re-echo of the Eucharistic Congress and I wanted to have a diocesan Congress of the Eucharist– Diocesan Eucharistic Congress.

In the first day, the first day, was an Eco-Eucharistic celebration. The Diocese celebrated Mass at the dawn of, at the dawn in La Mesa Dam. The Eco Park, you will know, my brothers and sisters, where the La Mesa Dam is, is housed in our Diocese. And La Mesa Dam is the source of all waters of Metro Manila.

To commemorate Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter, Laudato Si–Laudato Si–we celebrated Mass there and thanked God for the wind, and the waters and the trees. And after the Eucharist, we blessed the waters of La Mesa Dam and planted seventy-five trees in La Mesa Dam.

That afternoon, the whole Diocese in every parish we had, in every parish a first communion ceremonies. Little children receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time.

The second day was a day of The Eucharist centered in all the different parishes that make up the Diocese. It was a day of general communion for everybody in the parish and that Sunday, homilies have to be centered on the Eucharist.

We connected the Gospel about that bad woman, visitor of Simon, during a meal. We connected it to the Eucharist and showed our own preaching was centered on the Eucharist in all the parishes of the Diocese. The third day, today, was devoted on a Symposium of, on the Priesthood and the Gospel of Mercy.

I would like to thank the speakers for putting up salient points in Pope Francis’ Gospel of Mercy–mercy and compassion. And today we gather in this Eucharist, to thank God for my 75 years of life and almost 51 years of ministry as a priest.

Let me speak from the heart. I just wanted and I wanted just to share to you some of my own principles that guided me that I hope the priests, the Religious, the lay people, will recognize in this Eucharistic Celebration of the principles of life in which I have got, I have been guided.

Number one: To Him Be The Glory. The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit who has raised me up to more that I can be. This is the spirit of my own life. Everyday, I receive and I have from the Triune God, to which, who has been merciful to me.

Second point is this: the priest and I hope you are going to see yourself, each and every one of us, each and every one of us, the priest that I am is weak and wounded but blessed. Weak and wounded, you know that, and my brother priests, all was, we have to name our demons, claim them, face our demons, and then go ahead without fear because the mercy of God is there.

And no wonder that we are blessed, the blessed! The word, “blessed”, in the Gospel is makarios, “fortunate”. You hear in that word, that Greek Word makarios, Kairos. In the blessings are opportunities with which God gives us to go ahead, go forward, even as we are aware of our own weaknesses and woundedness.

The third, the third is something like this, that I have lived in my own pastoral life as a priest. The agents of evangelization that makes up the Church are the Lay people, the Religious and the Clergy. The Church cannot live without one of these.

And so, in our own pastoral life, in my own life, I have to make the three agents of evangelization work together. In our Diocese, we cannot be Clergy alone. We cannot be Religious alone. We cannot be Lay leaders or Lay persons alone. It has to be a coordination of these of these to have a beautiful Church.

Fourth, concerns the Diocesan priests. The Diocesan Priests are always and are priests. Even the Religious are given parishes with which they, wherein they are going to go and exercise their own pastoral care, that perfect charity–pastoral charity.

But my dear brothers and sisters, in my own practice, the Diocesan priests must not only hold a parish, so that he can widen his own horizon. A Diocesan Priest must have a Diocesan Ministry and Pastoral Care for the whole Diocese. So that his full view will not only be his own parish alone. He has to go and look around, wider than his own parish.

Dear brothers and sisters, I leave my 51 years of priest to all of you, with these principles. I don’t know if they are complete already, but it is enough to share it to you today.

I would like to thank all of you, my brother bishops, my brother priests, with whom I have been working in my past ministry as a priest…as a priest and as a bishop. From Manila, where I am a Clergy of until I was taken as a bishop to serve other local Churches.

Finally, as I thank you all bishops, priests, my dear Religious, my dear lay leaders and my dear friends–friends that have become almost my family since in all the places of my own ministry.

As I end this, my pastoral ministry, I see and I see and I have asked our own clergy: stay connected also with your families. Stay connected with your families. And when your parents are old and sickly and nobody to take care, bring them to your parish and you care for them. You’ll experience my brothers, that you are not the only one who will take care of our family. People share their own prayer because I think they see the parents of Jesus in the parents of priests.

But even if I, we care for our families, I ask forgiveness from my families because they have not, never been the first–even my second family. It was always the, my duty in the Ministry that was the first. Then if I have time, I go to my families and you know, I go to my second families that have nurtured my vocation. They are also here, the De Leons. I want to thank them.

So my dear brothers and sisters, I’d like to ask–you know I’d like to tell you something today and that, that I will end. I’ve been smiling the whole day at these two to three days, but my family is in mourning because one of my nieces died of pancreatic cancer last June 8 and we are in mourning. But I am here in the midst of my own commitment with my people. I could not say Mass everyday and I have asked friends–friend priests–to celebrate Mass for my family that are mourning today.

Parents are important. The families are also important. For those that have adopted me in my own Priestly Ministry, they are important to me. The demands of the Ministry had always been first. I would like to thank them for their understanding–my family, as well as my adopting family, the De Leons.

But when I am needed, they know that I’m so near them so that my niece that died, once told me this, “Uncle, we did not experience you as we grow up so near, but you are the most loved of all, anyway.”

How can you connect being far from being near? It takes some creativity to make the ones you love feel, even if you are not there, you are like, present. And so with these, my dear brothers and sisters, I leave you. I gave you some principles with which I have lived my own priestly life.

I want to thank the priests, the Clergy, and the Religious that have recognized these, and tagged along with me all the way as I went to the different dioceses I served–Zamboanga as an Auxiliary Bishop, then Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur; the province of La Union until I was called back here in Manila.

And now, I’m about to end. I have not yet written my letter of resignation which I will have to do one of these days. But more or less, I have already in mind what to say to Our Holy Father as I resign.

It will be a resignation, at the same time gratefulness for the mercy and compassion given by the Triune God and to me my own ministry as a bishop, by the Holy See, particularly, particularly, during the time.

All my Ministry as a Bishop, I have been appointed by St. John Paul II and I want to thank him for this opportunity of serving all the local churches I’ve gone through. and the present, even if it’s just a simple representative, is so much meaning for, the…former students that I trained in the minor seminary being here. God bless you.

Thank you very much for coming! May God return to you, your goodness to me today. Amen. (Transcribed by Jyn Aragon, MD)