Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao has appeared in public for the first time this week, more than two months after suffering a mild stroke.
The 69-year old prelate presided over a Thanksgiving Mass on Monday to kick off this year’s Kadayawan Festival at the San Pedro Cathedral in Davao City.
The appearance marked the first time he had been seen in public outside his residence since his illness in May, except for some online Masses.
“Here I am. I’m happy to be back!” said Archbishop Valles. “Thank you for your prayers.”
“As a priest and bishop, our joy is to be with you… to be with the people of God,” he said.
In his homily, the church leader admitted he thought he was going to die because half of his body was paralyzed. According to him, both his speech and swallowing were also affected.
“It was no small sickness… I thought of a great possibility of dying,” said Archbishop Valles, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The prelate was brought to the hospital in Davao City on May 23 and was discharged on July 6.
While still recovering, he asked Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, the CBCP vice president, to take over as acting president of the bishops’ conference on June 28.
“I still keep the cane but I can walk already but I’m still perfecting my walk,” Archbishop Valles said.
“I think I am progressing well as the doctors said. I’m still practicing how to kneel but I’m halfway there,” he added.