Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to the life and ministry of the late retired Bishop Angel Hobayan of Catarman who was laid to rest on Wednesday.
In a letter sent to the diocese’s current bishop, Emmanuel Trance, the pope offered his closeness to the local Church, briefly recalling the late bishop’s “many years of devoted priestly and episcopal ministry.”
He also offered his prayers “that Christ the Good Shepherd will grant him the reward of his labors and welcome his noble soul into the serenity and joy of heaven.”
The pope’s message was read at the Catarman Cathedral during the funeral Mass presided over by papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, with Fr. Agustin Opalalic, a Filipino priest serving in the US Diocese of San Diego, as homilist.
Bishop Hobayan, the first bishop of Catarman, died on March 11 at the age of 93. He was the country’s oldest bishop at the time of his death.
In his message, the nuncio paid tribute to the bishop who ministered the diocese in Northern Samar province for 30 years.
“To be here for the funeral is a great privilege to be with you in this moment in which we pray for him,” Archbishop Brown said.
Retired for 18 years, Bishop Hobayan “never got tired to head the call of his successor, Bishop Emmanuel Trance, to assist in his pastoral ministry, until old age and physical fragility overtook his human desire to always be available to people whom he loved as priest and bishop,” said Fr. Opalalic.
Many people attended the funeral service for the late prelate, including all the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Palo led by Archbishop John Du.
After the Mass, the remains of Bishop Hobayan were interred at the front left side of the cathedral’s altar.