“Welcome home our dear cardinal.”
With these words, Bishop Manolo de los Santos led in paying tribute to the late Cardinal Jose Sanchez, whose remains were reinterred at the Virac Cathedral on Friday, March 17, his 103rd birthday.
A number of people attended the reinterment service for Cardinal Sanchez, the first Filipino ever to serve at the Roman Curia, a little over 11 years after his death.
In his homily, the Virac bishop praised the cardinal for bringing “true pride” to the diocese, the exact place, “where he is supposed to be— here in Catanduanes.”
“We meet today once again our beloved cardinal… he is home with us now,” Bishop De los Santos said.
The bishop particularly credited the cardinal for the role he played to help promote vocation to the priesthood in the diocese through his scholarship foundation for seminarians.
Prior to the Requiem Mass, the remains of the cardinal were brought in procession around Virac town proper.
Cardinal Sanchez was first laid to rest at the crypt of Novaliches Cathedral in Quezon City after his death on March 9, 2012, at the age of 91.
Bishop De los Santos had asked the Novaliches diocese that the cardinal’s remains be transferred to his home diocese of Virac, “where people may see him and keep him in their prayers, thanking God for the grace of vocation given to every Catanduanon.”
Born in 1920 in Pandan town where he took his elementary education, the cardinal attended the Seminario del Santissimo Rosario in Naga City, and obtained his doctorate in theology at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila.
Throughout his episcopal ministry, he served as auxiliary bishop of Caceres, bishop of Lucena, and archbishop of Nueva Segovia.
While in Rome for a quarter of a century, he served as president of the Pontifical Missionary Societies; president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See from 1991 to 1993; and prefect of the Congregation for Clergy from 1991 to 1996.
In 2010, he returned to the Philippines for good and chose to live in obscurity with the Dominican Daughters of the Immaculate Mother in Quezon City.
Cardinal Sanchez was a priest for 65 years, a bishop for 43 years, and a cardinal for 20 years.
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