Surprised and afraid.
These were the initial thoughts of Cardinal Jose Advincula after learning that Pope Francis named him the new archbishop of Manila.
“Never in my wildest dream have I thought of becoming the archbishop of this first diocese in the Philippines,” he admitted in a video interview released to the media during the Holy Week.
He said that as soon as he heard of the appointment, he started praying for the archdiocese and also appealed to the faithful for prayers.
“Pray for me that I may be faithful in doing my ministry as the shepherd of the flock in Manila,” he said.
“I became afraid because I know Manila is a very big diocese,” he said. “I felt fear because I know my inadequacies, and I believe Manila is a very challenging archdiocese,” said Cardinal Advincula.
The 69-year-old native of Capiz in the central Philippines said that despite his fears he is comforted by the knowledge that the Lord will take care of him.
He said he will continue trusting in the “grace of God and the help of the people who would be around me.”
Helping the poor through various church projects is among the plans that he wants to implement once he arrives in the capital.
He said he wanted to “engage in projects” for the poor and will also “strengthen the initiatives of our predecessors.”
In an earlier pronouncement after he was made cardinal last year, Cardinal Advincula expressed his desire to continue programs in poor communities.
“We have pro-poor projects, which I hope I can continue as archbishop of Capiz,” said the then-prelate of the central Philippine archdiocese.
The cardinal said he will also focus on the pastoral life of the faithful in Manila and will look after their situation.
“A shepherd can be more effect in addressing the needs of the people if he knows the situation or condition of the flock,” he added.
He said he will study the possibility of bringing to Manila the “mission stations” that he implemented in Capiz.
On Easter Sunday, the cardinal stressed the need for reflection and “renewal” as the country marks the quincentennial of the arrival of Christianity.
“We cannot deny the fact that as individuals, as an institution, and as a people, we do need a continuous renewal,” he said in his homily.
He told the faithful who attended Mass at the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral in Roxas City that “the triumph of the Church in the next 500 years lies in our hands.”
The 69-year-old prelate said the faithful’s attitude should be like that of Jesus who carried his cross “humbly, lovingly and trustingly.”
He called on the faithful “to remain steadfast in their faith” especially during the pandemic.
On Sunday, Cardinal Advincula celebrated the 45th anniversary of his sacerdotal ordination. – with reports from Shirly Benedictos and Adrian Banguis-Tambuyat