07 October 2010

Bruce Lee's Priest:: Archbishop Soc celebrates Silver Sacerdotal Anniversary

6 October 2010 - Dagupan City. "What is my most memorable moment as a priest of twenty five years? My quick answer: Everyday … Everyday is memorable. Every day is a grace. You my friends have made every day of my twenty five years memorable" Thus, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD said in his homily during the Eucharistic Celebration to mark his silver sacerdotal anniversary. The occasion was attended by 15 bishops and almost 200 priests. The St. John the Evangelist Cathedral where the mass was celebrated was filled by well-wishers, friends and parishioners coming from the different parishes of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.

“God called me to follow Him and He called me through Bruce Lee. Before I heard the words of Jesus ‘Come follow me,’ I first heard the words of Bruce Lee, ‘Be yourself and learn the art of dying,’” the 50-year-old Villegas said in reminiscing the story of his vocation to the priesthood. " Bruce Lee, not Jesus was my teen age idol. I was too sickly to engage in martial arts but I was an avid reader of Bruce Lee’s philosophy," he further said.

Be flexible. Be formless. Be fluid. Be shapeless like water. You put water unto a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Water can flow or it can crash or creep. Be water my friend. Water has the continuity of movement. You must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying. The cup realizes itself only by being empty. Be yourself. 

These words touched and disturbed Archbishop Villegas as a young man. "It disturbed my sleep. It distracted my studies. It left me desiring passionately to learn the art of dying. I wanted to be empty like the cup. I wanted to be formless like water. I wanted to find myself. This search brought me to the gate of San Carlos Seminary in Makati because our high school principal said that was where I could learn the art of dying like my idol Bruce Lee." Thus , began his journey to the priesthood.

Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD was ordained to the priesthood by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin on 5 October 1985 at the Manila Cathedral at the age of twenty five. He served as personal secretary of the late Archbishop from his ordination until 2004. While keeping his post as personal secretary to the late Cardinal Sin, he also served as rector of the EDSA Shrine.

He was appointed Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan on 8 September 2009.
The Archbishop was joined by his classmates, and by Rev. Frs. Leo Macaraeg and Rafael Cruz, priests of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan who also celebrate their 25 years in the priesthood.

To read the full text of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas' homily, please click here.

All photos, courtesy of Rev. Fr. Allan Morris T. Abuan