According to the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D., Bishop of Novaliches, recieving a pontifical award actually inspire vocations to prosper in a parish and in a diocese.
“(It is) a model of real servant leadership–a real servanthood–to the clergy and the leaders of the religious congregations in our Diocese,” Bishop Tobias said during the Solemn Investiture Ceremonies for the Pontifical Awards Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice of Mrs. Estelita Macalaguim held in Divine Savior Parish last November 30, 2016.
Addressing an assembly of almost 500 guests gathered in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist that coincides with the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, the Bishop added that the Award is like the precious Cross that the Saint received as a means of his friendship with Christ.
“This is going to be a treasure that that the children are reminded that you are a model…for the Church and the Priesthood,” he said.
Bishop Tobias went on to explain that the Award, which is actually a golden medal resembling that of a cross, is like the Cross of Christ that has been an instrument to His “passion to the shame of everybody”, except that Mrs. Macalaguim will receive it as a reward for her years of service to the Church. Since Jesus Christ “changed the meaning of that cross” from a sign of extreme punishment for the worst criminals of society to “a means of friendship” and, more importantly, to “a means of salvation.”
The Bishop encouraged Mrs. Macalaguim not to feel unworthy as St. Andrew because “the Local Church of Novaliches requested it”. St. Andrew did not feel he was worthy to suffer like Jesus but eventually embraced it, dying to crucifixion like his brother, St. Peter.
Bishop Tobias then expressed his gratitude for Pope Francis who granted the Award and asked Mrs. Macalaguim to accept the award stating,”Because you have served the Church…this Local Church asks you to receive it with gratitude.”
According to the two-paged souvenir given out to guests of the event, “the Pro Eccesia et Pontifice is an award of the Roman Catholic Church known as the ‘Cross of Honour’ established by Pope Leo III on July 17, 1888 in commemoration of his golden jubilee and bestowed upon men and women who had aided and promoted the Jubilee and by other means assisted in making the Jubilee and the Vatican Exposition successful. This is currently given for distinguished service to the church by lay people and clergy and is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the Pope.”
The Bishop actually informed Mrs. Macalaguim of the Award early on through a letter stating that, “Be it known that this is the highest medal awarded to lay women by the Pope. Indeed, we have every reason to offer praise and thanksgivings to the Lord for you have been given this recognition.”
Besides Mrs. Macalaguim, the other Papal Awardees from the Diocese of Novaliches are Ms. Martina Eileen “Ai-Ai” Delas Alas*, who were also given the Pro Eccesia et Pontifice award last November 11, 2016, and Mr. Manolo Carandang, whose award elevated him to the Noble Knighthood of the Pontifical Order of St. Sylvester last December 4, 2016. The ceremonies for these two other awardees were held at the Cathedral Shrine and Parish of the Good Shepherd in Regalado Ave, Q.C.
The Eucharistic Celebration for the Conferment of the Pontifical Award Pro Eccesia et Pontifice of Mrs. Estelita Macalaguim was concelebrated by priests who have been part of the latter’s 23 years of service in the Church as lay leader in the parish, diocese, and national level. These include the Most Rev. Gabriel Reyes, Retired Bishop of Antipolo; former parish priests of the Divine Savior Parish: Rev. Fr. Victor Emmanuel Clemen, Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Nonato Legaspi, Rev. Fr. Marlou Lemaire; and its current Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Rev. Fr. Jose Peregrino V. Tomas. There were also other members of the Diocesan Clergy and Religious who concelebrated the joyous occasion.
There are five Pontifical Awards as per the Association of Papal Orders In Ireland’s Website**, otherwise known as the Papal Orders: The Supreme Order of Christ, The Pontifical Order of the Golden Spur, The Pontifical Order of Blessed Piux IX (the Pian Order), The Pontifical Order of Saint Gregory The Great, and The Pontifical Order of Pope St. Sylvester, Pope and Martyr.
According to the said website, these awards “are the only Orders founded and awarded by the Sovereign Pontiff either directly, motu proprio (of one’s own will), or indirectly, following a request submitted to the Papal Secretary of State. The awards are given by His Holiness as Head of the Catholic Church and as Head of State of the Holy See. Admission to the Supreme Order of Christ, the Pontifical Order of the Golden Spur and the higher ranks of the Pian Order is reserved for reigning Sovereigns and Heads of State. The middle ranks of the Pian Order are generally awarded to senior politicians, to ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, and to leading Catholics in the wider world for exceptional services to the Church and to society. Although civil and military divisions exist within some Orders, awards have been almost exclusively civilian. While the Pontifical Orders of Knighthood were initially founded for, and remained the prerogative of gentlemen, instructions were issued in November 1993 by the Secretariat of State that ladies were henceforth eligible for admission to the Pian Order, to the Order of Saint Gregory the Great and to the Order of Pope St. Sylvester.” (~Minnie Agdeppa)
*Ms. Martina Eileen “Ai-Ai” Delas Alas = http://news.abs-cbn.com/entertainment/10/17/16/shocked-ai-ai-delas-alas-receives-papal-award
**Association of Papal Orders In Ireland’s Website = http://www.papalorders.ie/index.php/pontifical-booklet/13-the-pontifical-orders