Bishop Alfredo Verzosa 53rd Death Anniversary

bishp-verzosa010.jpgJune 27 was a big day not only in Vigan but also for the entire Nueva Segovia.    It was the 53rd Death Anniversary of the Most Rev. Alfredo F. Verzosa:  a priesfr-ericson-josue.jpgfr-ericson-josue.jpgt of Nueva Segovia, the first Ilocano Roman Catholic Bishop, the first Filipino Bishop of Lipa and the founder of the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart. The day was made more significant by the presence of the Church of Lipa  headed by Archbishop Ramon Arguelles.

It was a triple celebration: a) the Eucharistic Celebration  presided over by the Most Rev Ernesto A. Salgado, Archbishop of Nueva Segovia;  with the Most Rev. Ramon C. Arguelles, Archbishop of Lipa as the Homilist,  b) Blessing of the Tomb of the late Bishop Verzosa and c)  Launching of the Book on the Life of Bishop Verzosa.  Also present were the Bishop Sergio Utleg of Laoag,  Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian of Bangued,  Bishop Reynaldo G. Evangelista of Boac and Bishop Salvador Q. Quizon, Auxiliary Bishop-Emeritus of Lipa, the entire presbyterium of Lipa, together with several religious women congregations. 

Archbishop Arguelles in his homily talked about “Pilgrimage in history” in connection with Lipa archdiocesan pilgrimage to the tomb of the late Bishop.  He enjoined the faithful to also come and journey with them, to come and pray with them, to learn from the life of a holy, obedient, humble and disciplined churchman.

The book,  ALFREDO VERZOSA, Obispo.  The life and fr-ericson-josue.jpglegacy of the Fourth Filipino Roman Catholic Bishop, authored by Fr Ericson Josue of the diocese of Laoag started as a booklet to chronicle his research on the life of the late bishop.   This reasearch, it could be said, is a fruit of curiosity from a historian’s point of view. 

It all started some years back, as a first year theology seminarian.  While on a visit to the Bishops’ Crypt at the Cathedral of Nueva Segovia here in Vigan, his attention was caught by the tomb of a bishop which bore a different title from the common Dignissimo Obispo de Nueva Segovia (Most worthy bishop of Nueva Segovia).  All of the tombs of the crypt bore the aforementioned title except one which said:  Obispo Titular de Capsa, Obispo Dimisionario de Lipa (Titular Bishop of Capsa, Resigned Bishop of Lipa).  From that encounter, he began to ask:  “Why is a bishop from faraway diocese interred in the Cathedral crypt of Vigan?  What is his relation to Ilocos? “ Thus, a serious study and discovery about a forgotten personality came about which became the topic of the research papers he submitted to the faculty of the Immaculate Conception School of Theology.   His research revealed that Bishop Versoza is the first Ilocano bishop in Philippine Episcopology, the first Filipino Bishop in the Southern Tagalog Region and Founder of a Religious Congregation- Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart.

Seminarian Ericson in the Preface of the booklet published in 2003 said that “Bishop Alfredo Versoza is a figure of firm commitment, humble service and patient endurance in suffering . . . image of a “Miles Christi” (Soldier of Christ), an exemplar of true witnessing and a model shepherd  today. ”

I am privileged, like his classmates, to  be a part of the “audience” of then seminarian Ericson.  Through all the years – from that first encounter up to the publication of this book,  Fr Ericson would share to me the discoveries he would stumble upon, most of which were attributed to Providence  “as if the Bishop really wanted to lay open his life to his “kakailians”, said Fr Ericson.