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Cebu News

The New Bishop

May Miasco - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Fr. Teofilo Camomot’s appointment as bishop came just three weeks after his birthday – and two months earlier than the date of his episcopal consecration on May 30, 1955. Pope Pius XII appointed him as Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro, Iloilo.

 

As bishop, he was entrusted with the task of witnessing to the truth of the Gospel and fostering a spirit of holiness. As steward of the mysteries of Christ in the church, the new bishop was reminded to remain a faithful overseer and guardian, and to be always mindful of the flock placed under his care.

In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister in a position of authority and oversight. He holds the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching doctrine, governing Catholics in his jurisdiction, as well as sanctifying the world and representing the Church. Acting “in persona Christi,” a bishop is a sign, voice, and means of salvation; he carries out in visible form the role of Christ as teacher, priest, and shepherd.

The day after his consecration, Bishop Camomot presided over his first pontifical high mass at the Santa Teresa de Avila Church in Talisay, where he served as parish priest for 12 years. It was a bittersweet occasion for the new bishop and his parishioners, as it marked the end of joyful and productive years to be under the watch of an esteemed and well-loved pastor. People came to see him one last time.

It was, for sure, a sad moment. The blessing that the new bishop gave the flock that day was also his farewell. He was leaving for his new assignment in Jaro, Iloilo.

Bishop Camomot has undoubtedly left his mark on the hearts of Talisaynons. After 53 years, in commemoration of the Jubilee of Bishops in 2008, the townsfolk put up a memorial for him in front of the Sta. Teresa de Avila Church with the inscription that reads: “Buotang Pari, Maalagarong Kura, Masinati-ong Obispo,” Cebuano for “Virtuous Priest, Caring Pastor, Benevolent Bishop.”

On May 31, 1955, Bishop Camomot arrived in Iloilo, where a public reception was held to welcome him. The following morning, a formal procession brought the new auxiliary bishop from the nearby seminary to the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral where he was presented to the people during a pontifical high mass.

The “splendor” of his new title did not affect Bishop Camomot. He remained modest. Throughout the rest of his life, he preferred to be called “Monsignor,” a traditional and less formal way of addressing a prelate of his office.

He stayed at the Jaro Cathedral for about a year, and then he was transferred to the seminary. Msgr. Jose Gamboa, then a seminarian when Bishop Camomot was assigned at the cathedral, recalled that instead of using one of the rooms in the convent, the bishop opted to sleep at the sacristy and would use the common comfort room. He’d usually wake up at around 2 a.m., spend some time to pray in the chapel, and do the Stations of the Cross every day. His homilies were not academic and theological, but simple and something which the people could relate to and understand. (FREEMAN)

BISHOP

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