15 February 2010 – Dagupan City. Two hundred seven priests from the 5 dioceses and 1 archdiocese gathered together for a one-day celebration of the First Metropolitan Clergy Day. The dioceses are the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and its suffragan dioceses of Alaminos, Urdaneta, San Fernando (La Union), San Jose and Cabanatuan (Nueva Ecija).
The celebration was opened with the praying of the rosary led by Msgr. Artemio L. Rillera. A Eucharistic Adoration followed with Msgr. Sofronio A. Bancud, the Bishop of Cabanatuan, presiding in the celebration. Msgr. Socrates B. Villegas, the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, gave the reflection during the holy hour. Msgr. Renato P. Mayugba, the Auxiliary of Lingayen-Dagupan, was the main presider in the Eucharistic celebration which was celebrated later in the morning. Msgr. Mylo C. Vegara, the Bishop of San Jose (Nueva Ecija) gave the homily.
Msgr. Marlo M. Peralta, the Bishop of Alaminos and the Bishop Emeritus of Alaminos, Msgr. Jesus A. Cabrera, were also present during the celebration.
The hands of the priest
In his reflection which he shared during the Holy Hour, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD, called on the priests to reflect and pray together the mystery of their priesthood by calling to mind the three things which the hands of a priest touched when he was ordained. “All priests have beautiful hands”, Msgr.Villegas further said. “The beauty of the priest’s hands is a gift of God.”
He mentioned that the ordinand touched the floor when he prostrated himself before the altar as a sign of his humility. The hands of the ordinand were clasped by the Bishop’s hands as he promised respect and obedience to his bishop and his successors. Msgr. Villegas said that with the promise made by the priest to obey and respect his bishop, the bishop in turn promised to the priest his love. He appealed, “Do not make us hard to love you. As we want to make it easier for you to obey us”. The sacred oil touched the priest’s hands. It is the hand of God touching the priest’s hands with the anointing of holy chrism. The hands of the priests no matter how gnarled they have become will always remain beautiful because they have been made beautiful by God. Villegas reminded the priests that their hands made sacred by God are meant to give. “Do not just give blessings, “he said, “but give also from your pocket. The first duty of a priest is to be giving-priest.” (Listen to the reflection: Click HERE.)
Msgr. Mylo C. Vergara in his homily exemplified the life of the patron saint of Diocesan priests, St. Jean Marie Vianney. He told the priests of St. Jean Vianney’s pious devotion to the Eucharist and his fidelity to the Divine Office. He said, “Let us not be discouraged because we have to Lord to give us strength; and we have each other. The fraternal communion that we share enriches us.”
Parlor games were played after lunch. Basketball games and lawn tennis were played in the afternoon between the teams of the different dioceses.
The First Metropolitan Clergy was held at the Stadia, Dagupan City.
The Bishops (L-R) Bishop-Emeritus of Alaminos, Bishop Jesus A. Cabrera, Bishop Mylo C. Vergara of San Jose, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, Bishop Renato P. Mayugba, Auxiliary of Lingayen-Dagupan, Bishop Sofronio A. Bancud of Cabanatuan, Bishop Artemio L. Rillera of San Fernando (La Union) and Bishop Marlo M. Peralta of Alaminos.
To see more pictures of the Metropolitan Clergy Day, please click HERE.