By N.J. ViehlandAs early as 2011, Filipino Catholics had expressed great pride in possibly having a Filipino pope, even if it was only wishful thinking.
Father Mark Reyes at the end of the Dec. 6, 2011 ordination rites for five priests for Imus diocese in Cavite, southwest of Manila, drew lively applause from people in church when he said his group of new priests is very “grateful and proud” to have been ordained by a possible future pope.
“We are proud to have been ordained by Bishop Tagle who people will soon be calling ‘His Eminence’, and maybe even ‘His Holiness’,” Father Reyes told people in church in Tagalog language. He said he and confreres are proud to have been ordained by Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle just before the prelate left their diocese to become Archbishop of Manila later that month.
Among his seminarians, Cardinal Tagle was a model of “servant leader.” Since his installation in Imus in 2001, the theologian bishop had lived in the diocese’s Good Shepherd seminary serving as rector of seminarians studying Theology.
“He has shown me concretely what it means to be humble and to serve by not living in a ‘bishop’s palace,'” seminarian Renier Dumaop told me after the ordination and Mass. “Bishop Tagle stayed with us in a simple seminary room doing routine work like washing his own dishes,” said the ordination Mass choir leader.
Aside from Father Reyes, Cardinal Tagle ordained Fathers Glenn de la Peña, Joseph Mayola, Ryan Serafin Sasis, and Eric Orcullo. On their behalf, Father Reyes thanked seminary formators, sponsors, their parishioners and their own families for supporting their training for priesthood.
Their ordination brought to 121 the number of priests serving the northern Philippine diocese’s 64 parishes with help from 89 male and 639 women religious from various congregations.
Less than a year later on Nov. 24, Pope Benedict elevated Archbishop Tagle to the College of Cardinals along with five other new cardinals. Pope Benedict on Feb. 11 announced he would resign at the end of this month. Cardinal Tagle is among more than 160 cardinals who will be electing the next pope most likely from among themselves.