Family, friends, and fellow pastors gathered for Bishop Honesto Pacana’s funeral on Thursday, capping a week of events honoring a man fondly called as the “Father of Catechesis” in the Diocese of Malaybalay.
The bishop emeritus of Malaybalay died on Feb. 1, aged 91, almost 30 years after the Jesuit missionary was elevated to the episcopate.
Archbishop emeritus Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, who delivered the homily during the funeral Mass at the Malaybalay Cathedral, hailed Pacana “as a just man, a man of dedication and joy”.
“He carried out his humble role as priest catechist for the thousands of families that have come to find their home, like himself, in the rolling hills and plains of Bukidnon,” said Ledesma, also a Jesuit.
During his 16-year episcopal ministry, Pacana focused on family catechesis, the formation of lay leaders in the parishes, and the strengthening of Basic Ecclesial Communities.
Under his guidance, the Bukidnon Institute of Catechesis has become a vital catechetical hub, serving young catechists’ educational and logistical needs not just in Mindanao, but also throughout the Philippines.
“May his legacy continue to grow in the Church’s synodal process of walking together and discerning the spirit of the Lord in our daily lives today,” the archbishop said.
For years, Pacana was also one of the strong voices on social justice and the environment in Bukidnon province.
During his episcopal ministry, the bishop did not mince words in criticizing logging and mining in the diocese.
He also joined the farmers in demanding the distribution of the Sumilao property, which became a landmark event in the recent history of agrarian reform in the Philippines.
In the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, he became the first chairman of its Episcopal Commission on Culture, which was established in 1994.
He also served as member of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE).
After his retirement, he remained in Malaybalay and resumed his ministry in facilitating retreats.
After the funeral, presided over by the current bishop of Malaybalay, Noel Pedregosa, Pacana was laid to rest at a place called the “Gallery of Saints” inside the cathedral.