MANILA, Philippines - Ahead of Pope John Paul II's beatification at the Vatican on May 1, while Filipinos across the globe await the holy event with bated breath, many of them do not know that a cause for the beatification of a number of Filipino bishops is underway.
Bishop Alfredo Versoza of the Archdiocese of Lipa and his auxiliary bishop Alfredo Obviar of the Archdiocese of Lucena are both believed to have witnessed the Lipa apparitions in 1948.
Preliminary evidence seeking their beatification have been submitted to the Holy See, on the way to their possible sainthood.
Bishop Alfredo Versoza, Archdiocese of Lipa, Batangas
Born in Vigan on December 9, 1877, Bishop Alfredo Versoza was 38 years old when he was named bishop of Lipa, Batangas in 1916. He was the first Ilocano bishop to serve in the Archdiocese of Lipa, and did so until 1950. He died on June 27, 1954, at the age of 76.
Sr. Julie Micosa, Superior General of the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart, a congregation Bishop Versoza founded, said his 34 years of service to the diocese remain unmatched.
Distinguished for his missionary zeal, he is remembered as having taken pains to go to the farthest barrio for the benefit of the church and the congregation.
Today, many of his things are on display at the mission, with stories of the miracles he witnessed, like the shower of rose petals at the Carmelite Monastery garden in Lipa, Batangas in 1948.
"Bumuhos sa kanyang harapan ang petals at siya'y napaluhod," Sr. Julie said.
The Archdiocese is waiting for the Catholic hierarchy to consider Versoza's beatification. The Versoza clan, led by Police Deputy Director Gen. Jesus Versoza, had vowed to finalize the evidence supporting the preliminaries for the late prelate's beatification and sainthood.
The Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia in Vigan said the bid cannot be sent to Rome until the bishop and his works are made known.
"Sa aming puso, isa siyang santo. Hindi na kailangang maiproklama. The fact na kami'y nag-survive at lumago bilang kongregasyon, this is a proof of his holiness," they said.
Bishop Alfredo Obviar, Archdiocese of Lucena
Born in Lipa, Batangas on August 29, 1889, Bishop Alfredo Obviar, former Bishop of the Archdiocese of Lucena, is also undergoing determination for possible beatification.
Bishop Obviar was auxiliary bishop to Bishop Versoza. He was moved to the Archdiocese of Lucena after Bishop Versoza retired.
Bishop Obviar founded the missionary catechists of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. He died on October 1, 1978, on the feast of his patron saint.
Bishop Obviar was named Servant of God in March 2001.
His body was interred at the Mother House of the Congregation in Tayabas, Quezon and numerous miracles are said to have happened through his intercession.
The Sacred Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome recently allowed (given the Nihil Obstat) the study of his life, writings and pastoral care, for his possible elevation to the rank of the Blessed.
Evidence on his life could elevate him to the possibility of being the first Filipino priest to achieve that inspiring spiritual level.
Bishop Teofilo Camomot, Archdiocese of Cebu
The Vatican has reportedly given its go signal for documentation and evidence to begin for the possible beatification of Monsignor Teofilo Camomot of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
A native of Carcar town, Monsignor Camomot was known for his service and generosity to the poor.
Claims of miracles attributed to Monsignor Camomot circulated after he was reportedly seen in two different places while he was still serving the clergy of Cebu.
At the age of 74, Monsignor Camomot died in a road accident on September 27, 1988, on his way home to Carcar. -- With a report from Sarita Kare, ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog