New Bishop of Iligan wants a ‘listening Church’

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/05 September) – Jose Ramirez Rapadas III was installed as the new Bishop  of the Diocese of Iligan Thursday, highlighting the event with calls for the Church to listen to the voices of the youth, Creation, peace and the poor.

Jose Ramirez Rapadas III, new Bishop of Iligan Diocese, during his installation on Sept. 5, 2019. MindaNews photo by RICHEL UMEL

His installation came one year and nine months after the death of his predecessor, Bishop Elenito Galido.

Rapadas, who hails from Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, was installed by Archbishop Martin Jumuad of the Metropolitan Diocese of Ozamiz in the presence of Papal Nuncio Most Reverend Gabrielle Giordano Caccia and fellow bishops.

In his message Rapadas emphasized the importance of listening. He said a church that stops listening “loses her youth and turns into a museum.”

“I want to see myself  as a servant who is willing to  listen,” he said.

“It is not enough  that the youth is the future of the society and the church. I hope to use our resources of the church to help find the meaning, their role, and their mission in the communities,” he said.

The bishop also said the church should listen to the “groaning of Creation.”

“It’s no longer a climate change but climate crisis,” he stressed.

Rapadas likewise urged the church to listen to calls for peace.

“There is so much violence around the world, in Mindanao. It is  essential that our community today is active in the process of dialogue, interfaith, interreligious dialogue so that we can maintain  that faith.

“The faith is not the source of conflict, but the source of solidarity and peace. That peace respects the sanctity of life. Respect for human rights and  dialogue is much superior than war,” he said.

He further urged the church to listen to the cries of the poor.

“Many have no jobs, land, education. Coconut, rubber and palay are cheap. Life is hard but a few are living in excess wealth.

“God is generous but those who are responsible for distributing wealth lack sensitivity or compassion,” he lamented.

Rapadas said September 5 is  the memorial of St. Theresa of Calcutta who “really touched me” for taking care of the poor.

At 47, Rapadas is currently the youngest Catholic bishop in the Philippines.

Caccia noted that the Diocese of Ipil where Rapadas came is also the youngest diocese in the country.

Axpedito “Popoy ‘ Villavito, a childhood friend and classmate at Marian College in Ipil from grade school to high school, said Rapadas was an altar boy.

He said they are proud of Rapadas. “He is a gifted person with humility and down to earth and a man of God whose heart belongs to the masses.”

Rapadas received the  symbolic  shield of the Diocese Sept. 4 during the testimonial dinner tendered by the Diocese of Iligan at St. Michael’s gymnasium. (Richel V. Umel/MindaNews)