Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Pope’s First Filipino Bishop Elected
Kristian S. Cordero

The long wait is over. Pope Benedict XVI has given the local church of Caceres another shepherd—the first Filipino bishop to be elected after his assumption to the See of Peter. Rev. Msgr. Jose R. Rojas, Vicar General and Parish Priest of Immaculate Conception Parish, Naga City is now the new auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese. His election as Titular Bishop of Idassa and auxiliary bishop of Caceres was made last July 25, 2005 at the Vatican City and was relayed through a communication sent to Apostolic Nuncio Antonio Franco who asked the faithful to pray for the new bishop.

Born in Cebu City as the eldest child of Jose Rojas Sr. and Emiliana Rojas on August 18, 1956, his family went back to Naga where the would-be-bishop took his elementary education at the Naga Parochial School. Realizing his vocation to the priesthood, he entered the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary where he finished his secondary education in 1973. He took up his philosophy at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary (1977) and his bachelor’s degree on sacred theology at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, a Dominican university in Manila (1980). On March 29, 1981, in a solemn ceremony held at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Archbishop Teopisto V. Alberto, DD, ordained him to the sacred orders of priesthood.

After his ordination, he was assigned as parochial vicar in the Parish of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City. In 1982, he continued his studies and earned his licentiate in theology and a master’s degree in Religious Education from the same Dominican university. Msgr. Rojas left the country for his doctoral studies at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium in 1985. Two years after, he received his doctorate both in philosophy and moral theology, a sole distinction he still holds among the Caceres clergy. Right after his studies abroad, he went back to Naga to serve as seminary formator. From 1987 to 1989 he was professor and vice-rector of the Holy Rosary Major Seminary and on 1989, he was installed as the new rector of the same seminary by Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi, OP, DD. Msgr. Rojas held the position until 1998.

Aside from his ministry in the seminary, he has been appointed to other key roles in the archdiocesan commissions namely: Chairman, Commission on Doctrine (1987-to the present); Judge, Caceres Marriage Tribunal (1991-1994); Chairman, Commission on Priestly Formation (1989-1998); Chairman, Commission on Preservation of the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary as a National Historical Landmark (1989-1995); Chairman, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council II (2002); Director, Caceres Family Ministry (2001- to the present) and many others.

Gifted with propensity both in writing and music, Msgr. Rojas has composed numerous liturgical and Marian songs both in English and Bikol. He has written articles on various issues on morals, bioethics, church history, seminary formation, and other church-related issues that landed on different national and international publications. He has also written and edited books published in the archdiocese: The History of Enduring Monument, The Holy Rosary Seminary in Caceres (1995); A Story of Divine Providence: The History of Daughters of Mary (1996); Editor, Sacramentario, Lectionario and Pamibi nin Banwaan; Editor, Light to All (2004).

The new auxiliary bishop of Caceres holds the office of the Vicar General since 1998, a position that most likely he will retain. As Vicar general, he ranks second after the archbishop, thus in many occasions, Msgr. Rojas has actively taken up this role, presiding parish fiesta celebrations, installations and the monthly assembly of the clergy. His election therefore to the episcopacy is seen by many clergy as an affirmation for his indefatigable service to the local church of Caceres. His Episcopal consecration is yet to be announced while others are speculating as early as now that it will fall on the Peñafrancia celebration this coming September.

We enjoin our readers to pray for Msgr. Rojas as he takes his pastoral staff to be brave enough and have the courage to fight for his flock assailed by the many wolves that continue to devour the people entrusted to his care. May Jesus, the Eternal High Priest and Mary, Mother of All Christians bless and keep his servant in his ministry.

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