MANILA - The bishop of the Diocese of Malolos in Bulacan, Most Rev. Jose Francisco Oliveros, D.D., passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer.
He was 71 years old.
"It is with great sadness that the Office of the Vicar General announces that our Local Ordinary, His Excellency, Most Rev. Jose Francisco Oliveros, D.D. has joined our creator, the Heavenly Father at 9 a.m. today," the announcement from the diocese said.
The prelate was found unconscious in his room at 8 a.m. and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead an hour later.
"We appeal to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Malolos to pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Bishop Jose. Please include him in your prayers on all Masses and prayers for the following days."
His remains will lie in state at the Cathedral and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Malolos and will be laid to rest on Thursday, May 17, in the cathedral's crypt.
'I TRUST IN GOD'S MERCY'
Born on September 11, 1946, Bishop Oliveros was ordained priest in 1970 at the Rizal Park in Manila by Blessed Paul VI during the latter's apostolic visit to the Philippines.
In 2000, he was appointed second bishop of the Diocese of Boac in Marinduque and was ordained to the episcopate in the same year. Four years later, he was named the fourth bishop of Malolos.
The prelate was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. It worsened in 2015, and the bishop had to undergo chemotherapy.
Despite being frail, Oliveros insisted on attending, even presiding, over major liturgical events in the diocese.
During the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy held in the Philippines in 2017, the bishop gave a moving homily about his battle with cancer and his episcopal motto "Confido in misericordia Dei" (I trust in God's mercy).
"The Holy Father appointed me as a bishop inspite of my unworthiness and my sinfulness. And I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever," the bishop said. "As my episcopal motto I chose ‘Confido in misericordia Dei’, I trust in the mercy of God, taken from Psalm 52 where it says: ‘I am like a growing olive tree in the house of the Lord."
Oliveros was last seen in public during the episcopal ordination of Rev. Msgr. Bartolome Santos, former vicar general of Malolos and the incoming bishop of the Diocese of Iba in Zambales.
On the eve of his passing, the bishop posted a seemingly prophetic message on his Facebook account:
"What is this 'in a little while' mentioned by Jesus in today’s Gospel? No one knows; what we know is that it will happen sooner or later. We must therefore be prepared at all times to welcome Jesus when He returns."