A Gift of Charisma
May Miasco (The Freeman) - April 22, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — None of the people who had met Archbishop Teofilo Camomot could ever recall him complaining about anything. He entrusted everything to God, the God who called him out of his family’s farmland in Carcar town. He heeded the call to serve God and to tend His flock.

His approach toward temporal power and material wealth can be gleaned from a homily he delivered during a priestly ordination:

“So… always pray and meditate. Do not desire the happiness of the world; you can have all the homes that God will give you but no one should ever possess you because you belong only to God. To constantly pray will make you meek, humble, and patient. You can face all spiritual problems, you can heal the wounds of the soul, and you can become worthy to go up to God’s altar and offer the sacrifice. Then from God, you go down to God’s people to bring [to them] His mercy forgiveness and hope, and your heart will be filled with God’s flame of love that you may always be ready to teach, to forgive, to console, and to bless. That is the mission of the priest, God’s priest of the only true, one, and Catholic Church here on earth.”

While in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, Archbishop Camomot busied himself organizing several religious communities for men and women who aspire to enrich their Christian life and to become more fully involved in the ministerial life of the Church. He knew his limitations; he knew he couldn’t do it all by himself. He wanted to form a group to help him in serving the poor.

In the afternoon of November 25, 1959, four former nuns – Mary Fatima Toong, Gertrude Rosales, Cecilia Palomo, and Lourdes Paclibar, together with an aspirant, Salvacion Jamilano – arrived at the Santa Rita de Cascia Parish. They wanted to form a congregation, and sought the archbishop’s help.

Archbishop Camomot responded positively to the request of the women, who were later joined by other sisters on January 6, 1960, the Feast of the Epiphany.

The group was formed, and named the Carmelite Tertiaries of the Blessed Eucharist, or CTBE, because many of its first members belong to the Carmelite Third Order. Also, Bishop Camomot once served as the first prior of the San Elías Chapter of the Third Order of Carmelites Discalced (now the Secular Order of Carmelites Discalced) at the Carmelite Monastery in Mabolo, Cebu City in 1955.

Throughout his life, Archbishop Camomot was attracted to the charism of Carmel. He was inspired by the writings of Santa Teresa de Avila and St. John of the Cross, the two great reformers of the Carmelite Order and founders of the Discalced Carmelites.

The CTBE then became a pious association of women engaged in catechism, education, and charitable works. Mother Asuncion Mendiola was its first Superior General. One of the group’s pioneering nuns, Sr. Maria Cecilia Palomo, recounted their experience with Archbishop Camomot:

“Archbishop Teofilo Camomot was still young, [but] he radiated the image of a real father, the aura of a saint in welcoming us. In a short time, [more] ladies answered the call to religious life… Young and old joined the group. It was [the archbishop’s] holiness that radiated to the hearts of those ladies and had them commit to serve God.” (FREEMAN)

TEOFILO CAMOMOT
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