Archbishop John Du yesterday bade farewell to the Diocese of Dumaguete, and thanked the clergy, laity and the community for their support in making the Catholic Church stronger and sturdier.
Du is scheduled to leave for Palo, Leyte, tomorrow where he will be installed as the new archbishop, by Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, on May 9.
In his regular Sunday morning mass, and again in the afternoon at the ordination of the two deacons, Du said the success of the programs and projects of the Diocese in almost 11 years of his leadership had been possible because of the support and cooperation of church members.
These include the feeding program for the less privileged, that has been fully organized and a far cry from its early days when he had to shell out his own money, Du said.
The program, with the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and other support groups behind it, has benefited many of the city’s poor and is held the entire week at the ground floor of the Marian Center, that is complete with facilities such as a soup kitchen, he added.
Du said he is happy to leave, knowing that the program will be sustained.
The prelate also highlighted the new mission centers of the diocese that have churches and convents, like those in Amio and San Francisco, in Sta. Catalina; Tayawan and Dawis in Bayawan City; Tambo in Ayungon, and the latest in the Apo Island in Dauin.
Du also blessed the five new classrooms of the St. Anthony Academy in Tayasan town; officiated at the groundbreaking of the first phase of a housing project in Barangay Bajumpandan, Dumaguete, for the typhoon victims, and led in the ordination rites for the two deacons yesterday.
He announced that a health care program has been laid out for the Dumaguete clergy, as well as the planned standard living allowance for the priests to allow them to have equal stipends, unlike before when this was based on funds generated by a concerned parish.
He also expressed hope that the daily dawn prayer “aurora” and the catechesis every May will continue, and thanked the city government for returning the Santacruzan back to the Church as it is a religious activity.
Du also called on the faithful to continue supporting the Diocese in its endeavors as he prepares to take on a bigger challenge in Palo, Leyte, where there will be around 160 priests in his care. The Diocese of Dumaguete has about 80 priests in 42 parishes and six chaplaincies.*JFP