By Roi Anthoni Lomotan
DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) – The Diocese of Dumaguete celebrated its 60th year as a diocese today with a mass presided by Bishop Julito Cortes.
The celebration of the diocese’s 60th anniversary points to reconnecting to the source of Christian faith, the Lord Jesus Christ as well as to the diocese’s past.
In a press briefing Monday night, Bishop Cortes said for this anniversary, the diocese has made contact with Catholic Church officials in Cebu for a possible visit of the pilgrim image of the Señor Santo Niño or the infant Jesus in Dumaguete City.
This request was granted and the pilgrim image of the Sto. Niño arrived in the capital city of Negros Oriental on April 6 and will be touring pastoral districts under the diocese until April 10.
The visit of the pilgrim image of the Holy Child in the province coincided with the 450th anniversary of “Kaplag” or the dramatic discovery of the image of Sto. Niño in Cebu years after the Magellan expedition.
Fr. Jonas Mijares, rector of the Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño De Cebu, disclosed there is a move to bring the pilgrim image of the infant Jesus to other dioceses throughout the country.
Bishop Cortes considers the visit of the Sto. Niño in Dumaguete City in time for the observance of 60th year of its diocese is relevant with the theme of revisiting Christian faith.
“What better way to celebrate our anniversary than to go back to our source of faith which is our Lord Jesus, the symbol which has become the Sto. Niño,” he added.
Bishop Cortes also mentioned that Fr. Mijares and Fr. Vince Liwag, the person in charge of the Kaplag pilgrimage will give a talk on the history and devotion to the Señor Sto. Niño as well as the present challenges of the Catholic Church to all clerics of the diocese to further raise the knowledge on these topics after the mass in the morning.
The presence of the Senior Santo Niño here is also a way of acknowledging and paying homage to the Archdiocese of Cebu, Dumaguete’s former head diocese.
“We used to belong to the Archdiocese of Cebu until 1856 so as we celebrate our 60th anniversary, it would be nice to reconnect with Cebu,” Bishop Cortes explained.
A souvenir book on the diocese’s past containining pictures of the diocese’s history for easy understanding of readers will also be presented in the gathering of priests after the mass.
Meanwhile, Bishop Cortes clarified that celebration of the diocese’s anniversary was supposedly on April 5 which is the actual date of declaration of Dumaguete as a diocese based on the 1955 papal bull but it was moved to April 7 because the former date fell on Easter Sunday.
“We moved it to April 7 because it is also the birthday of the first bishop of Dumaguete, the late Epifanio Surban,” he elaborated.
Bishop Cortes also noted that the centerpiece of the 60th anniversary of the diocese will be the formulation of the Diocesan pastoral plan which will entail a lot of consultation with the clergy, vicariates, lay leaders and religious in different parishes.
When asked what else is his dream for the diocese five to ten years from now, Bishop Cortes’s response was: “Actually the dream of the Diocese is already enshrined in the vision of the first synod of Dumaguete.”
The vision of the synod is for Dumaguete to be a Eucharistic ecclesial community aligned in worship, firm in faith, biblical in teaching and sacrificial in serving.
However, Bishop Cortes added that the community must also be missionary in spirit, mindful of the poor and radiating with the joy of the gospel. (rmn/ral/PIA7-NegOr/This article was first published at PIA Website on April 7, 2015)