MANILA - Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle could not help but turn emotional as he bid farewell to his hometown Imus, Cavite before assuming his new post in Rome.
In a Mass at the Cathedral of the Our Lady of the Pillar on Monday, Tagle recalled how his Christian journey began in that very same church.
"Dito po ako bininyagan. Dito sa simbahang ito nagsimula ang aking pagiging Kristiyano. Dito rin ako naordinahang pari, naordinahang obispo," the cardinal said.
(I was baptized here. I became a Christian in this church. I was ordained a priest here, and then as bishop.)
Tagle said he was surprised to see the cathedral packed with people on a Monday. He said the celebration gives him strength as he prepares for his new role in the Vatican.
"Magiging overseas Filipino worker na ako... hopefully dala ang pananampalataya," he said. "Ipagdasal ninyo po ako, lalo na si Pope Francis, sa panahong ito."
(I will be an overseas Filipino worker... Hopefully, I can bring the faith with me. Please pray for me, especially Pope Francis, in this time.)
Tagle thanked everyone who attended the Mass, including his mother, the bishop and priests of the Diocese of Imus, and several local officials led by Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla.
Imus Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista also thanked Tagle for agreeing to his invitation to celebrate Mass before the cardinal leaves for Rome.
It was December last year when the Vatican announced Tagle's appointment as the new prefect of the powerful Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also known as the "Propaganda Fidei."
This Vatican office is responsible for spreading the Catholic faith throughout the world through its missionary work and related activities.
Also called the “Red Pope”, the position is equivalent to that of the Cabinet secretary to the Roman Pontiff.
Tagle is expected to formally assume his new post early this year.
Meanwhile, the Vatican has yet to announce his replacement as archbishop of Manila. -- Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News