Last night, the gala of the play entitled Obispo took center stage at the Samsung Hall of SM Aura. The play was on the life and times of Bishop Alfredo Verzosa. Born December 9, 1877 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, he was ordained on December 24, 1904. He became Bishop of Lipa on September 6, 1916 and served for more than 34 years until his retirement.
He was the fourth Filipino bishop, the first bishop from Ilocos and the first Filipino bishop of Lipa. He was a survivor of the massacre of the Japanese in Lipa during the liberation of Batangas at the end of World War II. He was an enabler of various orders and was the founder of the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart (MCSH). Later he witnessed an alleged miraculous shower of rose petals in the Carmelite Monastery in Lipa in 1948. After the apparition he was asked to retire and spent the remaining years of his life in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
In the process of assisting the Cause, I learned three things: 1) there is a very tedious sainthood process; 2) being the first Catholic country in Asia, we still do not have a priest saint; and 3) injustice is universal, even in the confines of the Church.
The sainthood process is composed of four steps: a) Servant God; b) Venerable; c) Blessed and d) Saint. From a layperson, every step tests one’s patience and ability to raise the necessary funds to sustain the effort. It looks like climbing Mount Everest. Impossible at first but when done it always look like there was a hand guiding the effort. We have two saints, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod. Both were martyred saints. For priests to be considered as one, it has to be on the basis of heroic virtues. And here Verzosa is known for: pastoral charity, generosity and evangelical poverty, humble obedience, prudence, firm commitment, magnanimity in suffering and having been a defender of the faith,
Verzosa, despite all the contribution to the Church, was banished. He was asked to retire when retirement was not fashionable yet. There were issues raised that were never proven. These issues became the reasons for his banishment. He was stripped of all his titles and then some. In the early days when he went out of the seminary because he questioned the Spanish friars’ sense of justice, his last years were in full obedience to the will of the Church despite what happened to him.
A son of a rich family in Vigan who frequently donated what they had for Verzosa’s mission, he returned to his ancestral residence and lived a destitute life. When he resigned, Verzosa was given the title Titular Bishop of Capsa. Get hold of the book by Fr. Ericson Josue to know what Titular Bishop of Capsa means. Get hold of the book to know the injustices he experienced and yet he ardently held on. Verzosa never talked again about the Lipa miracle.
In my world, one could say napolitika si Verzosa. In this day and age when truth is sacrificed for political ends, when character assassinations are continually done as if politicians are all bad and they have not done a single, worthwhile act for la patria; when media become a tool to promote propaganda instead of ferreting the truth; when accountability is compromised to protect the anointed ones and truth is embellished to justify bad things allegedly done in good faith, recalling Verzosa’s life is a breath of fresh air. Despite the injustice done to him, he chose to all the more love his Church.
In this time of truth searching, the vindictiveness of a leader should have no place in the national consciousness. Speak of truth and only truth will serve the country right. Socrates once said “One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him.” You willed the impeachment, do not cover your tracks with the dung you created and blame it on those who you hate most.
Verzosa died at the age of 76 and barely six months before his 50th anniversary as a priest. The Bishop returned to his Lord in 1954, the Centenary of the Proclamation of the dogma on the Immaculate Conception and the first Marian Year in history. Truly, sometimes, we just have to believe.
The Cause for the beatification of Servant God Bishop Alfredo opened last 11 January 2013 and the effort has until 2015 to submit all the necessary documents to Vatican. The Cause needs 30 witnesses, according to Sr. Julie Micosa, MCSH. Already 14 witnesses have been interviewed by the tribunal adjudicating the cause.
Those who wish to have prayer cards of Bishop Verzosa can text Sr. Julie Micosa at 0919-5088601 or e-mail her at email@example.com. Information about favors granted by God through the intercession of Bishop Verzosa can be sent to Msgr. Gary Formoso of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, Vigan City. Formoso is the judge delegate for the cause of Bishop Verzosa. Check out www.bishopverzosa.com to know his life. We should work and pray for this Filipino priest to be declared a saint. It is worth our time.