Habemus Episcopum! What a grace from God to have witnessed my former seminary rector being ordained to the episcopacy.
The Holy Father Pope Francis appointed as Bishop of Novaliches, Most Rev. Roberto Orendain Gaa, last June 6. On the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary (August 22, 2019), our seminary community went to the Manila Cathedral to witness Fr. Robbie’s humble giving of self to be ordained as Bishop by His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, together with two co-consecrators, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and Bishop Mylo Hubert C. Vergara of the Diocese of Pasig, also an alumnus of Holy Apostles Senior Seminary.
Many priests and bishops from different dioceses were present as well as guests from different communities who have known Bishop Robbie. Seeing all those people gathered inside the cathedral made Bishop Robbie choke in tears and ask the Lord, “All these for me?” But the Lord was quick to answer our newly ordained bishop, “Not for you, but for the diocese. You are just a funnel that receives all these blessings to course the blessings to all those who need them.”
The Lord has really prepared Bishop Robbie for his new ministry. When he was still our Rector, he had announced early on that he would like to ask Cardinal Tagle for a sabbatical, not to have rest but to have growth in other aspects of the priestly ministry. In his homily, the Cardinal affirmed Bishop Robbie’s service to the Archdiocese of Manila, as well as his humility, dying to self and living for others. He indeed “asked for a sabbatical not just for himself but so that he could equip himself to be a more well-rounded and effective pastor.” And what a stroke of providence! There is another sabbatical the Lord has been preparing for him; a new journey of sharing himself as a gift to others, especially to the Diocese of Novaliches. “That is the nature of gift: it is given, continuously given. If that is not given anymore, it ceases to be God’s gift.”
Seeing all the elements of the rite of episcopal ordination being done, with Bishop Robbie now in full regalia, I was inspired by his acceptance of God’s offer, by his response to God’s surprise and mission for him. I prayed silently for the grace of memory that I may always keep all that had happened during his ordination in my heart and that like Bishop Robbie, my heart may be made open to the Holy Spirit’s many surprises and feel the impulse to serve others.