Archbishop Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia said priests are called to witness Christ through their lives, and the faithful have a right to expect this of their pastors.
The prelate said that while preaching is an important element in evangelization, the “more effective” way to practice the ministry “is by believing and practicing what we teach.”
“In other words people do not give so much attention to what we say as to our life of witness,” said Bishop Peralta during Mass for the imposition of the pallium on Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao on January 14.
“We may be able to explain very well the articles of the faith but what [people] seek in us more than ever is our life of witness,” he said.
In his homily, the archbishop explained that a bishop has three important functions: to teach, sanctify, and to rule.
He said that when it comes to the ministry of sanctifying, pastors need to lead their flock to the path of holiness, which should start with “our rootedness in Christ.”
“It is very important that we recognize this first step, that we cultivate our personal relationship with Christ for it can bear fruit in our ministry,” said Archbishop Peralta.
The ministry of ruling, according to him, is all about “kindness, mercy and compassion.”
“We are asked to lead our Church, the faithful and also our priests with mercy and compassion,” he added.
Pope Francis entrusted to Archbishop Peralta the imposition of the sacred bond of white wool on Archbishop Baccay, who was installed as archbishop of Tuguegarao a year ago.
Only a few people attended the ceremony due to strict health protocols brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony was, however, streamed live on social media.
The woolen band that symbolizes unity with the pope and responsibility to care for the flock was blessed by Pope Francis on the feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul last June 29 in Rome.
Due to travel restrictions, Archbishop Baccay was unable to travel to Rome for the papal blessing of the pallium, which was entrusted to Archbishop Peralta for conferral.
While the pope continues to bless palliums and give them to new archbishops as his predecessors did, he decided in 2015 that each archbishop receives it in his archdiocese, in front of the faithful and other bishops.
In his homily, Archbishop Peralta said the imposition of a pallium completes the installation of Archbishop Baccay as metropolitan archbishop of Tuguegarao.
The vestment, he said, implies that an archbishop has to be united with the pope in governing the Church “intended to be imbued with Christ’s mercy and compassion”.
Turning to Archbishop Baccay, he stressed that to be entrusted with an archdiocese, fairness and justice should play a role.
“You are to promote the common good. Fairness and justice should be part of the overall picture in the pastoral governance of your metropolitan archdiocese,” said Archbishop Peralta.
“While we need to be kind and merciful we also need to practice fairness because this is the only way that we can promote the common good,” he added.
Archbishop Baccay was appointed archbishop of Tuguegarao by Pope Francis on Oct. 19, 2019. He was installed to the post on Jan. 14, 2020.