By Isabella Marie Zerrudo
THE Archdiocese of Jaro will continue with the reassignment of some priests despite the appeal filed by Fr. Espiridion “Boy” Celis Jr. with the Congregation of the Clergy in Rome.
Monsignor Joemarie Delgado, Social Communications director of the Jaro Archdiocese, urged Celis to respect the authority of Archbishop Angel Lagdameo whom he described as a successor of the Apostles and representation of Christ.
Delgado made the call to Celis in a Prayer Assembly in support of Lagdameo held at Molo Plaza in front of the St. Anne’s Parish on Nov 29, 2017.
“Kag ini naga-kabagay gid nga ipakita man naton (priests) ang aton pag respeto sa iya (Lagdameo) kag ang pag tan-aw nga naga tagos sa iya person kay may gina representar siya mo,” Delgado added.
According to the organizers of the prayer gathering who are mostly from Taal, Molo, the assembly is also a call for unity within the Archdiocese due to the supposed rift caused by Celis’ petition or recourse right after Lagdameo turned down his request to stay in Molo.
Celis is supposed to serve as parish priest of St. Anthony’s Church in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo starting Dec 3, 2017.
Delgado said that since Celis has brought his recourse to the Congregation, Lagdameo will wait for their decision until Dec 3.
“We have to respect the process kag hulaton naton ang sabat (of the Congregation), kag kung indi na mag-abot ang sabat sa gin-talana nga date sang effectivity sang reshuffling (Dec 3), ti ang aton Senyor Arsobispo may mga himuon man nga tikang nga himuon niya ya ang katungdanan nga ara sa iya bilang Arsobispo,” Delgado said.
WHY IS THERE RESHUFFLING?
Delgado explained during the Assembly the reason for the reshuffling by elucidating on the “network of relationships” between Jesus Christ, Apostles, bishops, and priests.
Apostles were chosen by Christ to fulfill his mission, and the Apostles were succeeded by bishops who continue their work, but priests do not succeed the bishop.
“We (priests) do not succeed the bishop as priest, naga-bulig kami kay ti gin-ordinahan kami sa amu sina nga tuyo (to fulfill the mission of the bishop), kag tungod sina nga gina-padala kami sang amon Arsobispo sa naga kalain lain nga lugar sa sulod sang archdiocese para patigayunon ang misyon nga mabaton (from) sa iya,” Delgado said.
Fr. Robert Amalay, director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Pastoral Secretariat (JAPS), said most of the priests affected by the revamp are now preparing to leave for their new assignment.
Celis did not want to be reshuffled to Barotac Nuevo because he said Molo parishioners “begged him to stay”.
“When my children, my parishioners begged me to stay, I appealed to the Archbishop for understanding,” Celis said in a statement he released on Nov 28 in another press conference.
But Lagdameo did not grant the appeal and even dared the priest (as Celis claimed) to bring his case to Rome.
VOWS AND RESPECT
Besides the relationship between bishops and priests, Delgado explained that priests have a vow of obedience to the Church through their bishops.
“May gina tawag kami nga vows… ang vow sang total dedication to the people of God through a celibate life; tapos obedience sa Church, to the office and person of the bishop; kag, of course, ang simplicity of life,” Delgado explained.
Celis said in his press conference at the Iloilo Convention Center on Nov 28 that when parishioners supporting his stay in Molo visited and appealed to Lagdameo regarding his case, the Archbishop replied that the reshuffling is his prerogative.
Celis argued that “blind obedience” to the bishop cannot be the case when the Canonical Law provides that a person aggrieved by a decree can make recourse.
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