300 Cebu clergy members renew their priestly vows
REDISCOVER the joy of priestly vocation.
This was the challenge of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma to the clergy as he led the Chrism Mass and renewal of priestly vows at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Tuesday morning.
The leader of the country’s biggest archdiocese spoke about happiness rooted in the grace of God.
“The Lord instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders to continue His mission on earth. He anointed those he chose with the oil of gladness,” the 68-year-old prelate said in his homily.
“The source of gladness is the Father’s love. We remember the day when we (priests) were offered to the Lord. Let us rejoice in looking back to the day we were ordained as priests and immersed in God’s love,” he added.
With over 419 diocesan priests and about 300 others from different religious congregations, Cebu still has the most number of priests in the Philippines.
They administer to 3.8 million lay Catholics in Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the Far East.
During the Mass, Palma blessed the oils that will be used by priests in administering the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and holy orders.
Three bottles containing the sacred oils were distributed to priests after the final blessing.
The Chrism Mass and renewal of priestly vows are traditionally held on the morning of Maundy Thursday to commemorate the day when Jesus Christ instituted the sacraments of the Eucharist and priesthood.
But in Cebu, it is done before Holy Week so that priests, especially those from the islands and far-flung parishes, could attend.
Present during the Mass were Cebu Auxiliary Bishops Dennis Villarojo and Oscar Florencio, and retired Bishops Antonio Rañola, Emilio Bataclan, and Ireneo Amantillo.
The Cebu clergy renewed their priestly vows to shun worldly pleasures, to be faithful to God and His Church, and to carry out the sacraments.
In the Philippines, 2018 is declared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) as the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
Palma urged all priests to serve God’s flock for it is only in doing so that their lives find meaning.
“May we become instruments so others will be anointed as well,” he said.
Palma also appealed to the clergy to let go of anything more than they need.
“Our real wealth is the Lord. My fear is not having so much money but rather having more than what we need. That is the greatest danger,” he said.
Amid their shortcomings, Palma encouraged all priests to stand up and rediscover the joy of their vocation.
“We are not worthy. Who are we to be loved by the Lord? And yet we are called by God and we know that He is with us,” he said.
“Our call then is to be faithful to this love. Let us listen to God through the bible and prayer. We do this out of joy for the good of the Church,” he added while requesting lay people to pray for him and all priests.
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