Former CBCP head Leonardo Legaspi, 78

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After a long battle with cancer, Leonardo Legaspi, former Caceres archbishop and also former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), passed away on Friday morning at the age of 78.

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Legaspi was also the first Filipino rector of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST) from 1971 to 1977.

An article posted on the CBCP official website said the former archbishop died at 5 a.m. at the UST Hospital in Sampaloc, Manila.

Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said Legaspi, whom he fondly called Nanding, “did his assignments and did [them]very well indeed.”

To Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr., the late archbishop was “a giant among bishops, a leader with vision and integrity and with huge achieve–ments, especially in initiating and leading the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines.”

According to Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, Legaspi led the country in renewing its ties to the Catholic Church as president of the Second Plenary Council in 1991.

Legaspi served as president of the CBCP from 1987 to 1991.

Fr. Benito Tuazon, Minister of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Ecology Desk, credits the late achbishop for his pastoral letter entitled “What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land?” in 1988.

Legaspi was born in Meycauyan, Bulacan, on November 25, 1935 and was ordained as priest of the Order of Friars Preachers on December 17, 1960.

He was appointed Auxilliary Bishop of Manila at the age of 41 on June 25, 1977 under Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin.

Legaspi was named Archbishop of Caceres, when he was 47 years old, on October 20, 1983.

Known for his deep devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Bicolandia’s patroness, he retired on September 8, 2012 at age 76.

Legaspi was found to be suffering from lung cancer in 2009.

His remains will lie in state at the UST Chapel starting today until August 11 and at the Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City, Camarines Sur, August 11 to 13.

He will be interred at Santuario de Santo Domingo after a 2 p.m. Mass at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Fund for Retired and Sick Priests during the funeral wake in Naga City or The Fund for the Educational Assistance of the Seminarians of the Dominican Province of the Philippines for the duration of the funeral wake in Manila.

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