Visiting Bishop Abel

Visiting Bishop Abel Apigo, the new bishop of Mati is an experience worth remembering, and writing about.

I don’t know if he was aware that he would be appointed bishop of the Diocese of Mati. Fr. Abel was young and he had a very crucial appointment as Rector of the St Francis Major Seminary (REMASE) in Catalunan Grande, Davao City

REMASE is the school of seminarians pursuing priesthood. This is where they study their theology and formation as priests. After college, a seminarian studies in REMASE. And Fr. Abel was the rector (director) of that seminary.

While there, Fr. Abel stirred Remase to be relevant and creative. He made sure that the would-be priests will have the most meaningful formation. And that prayer is the heart and soul of their priestly formation.

When there was this convention of all priests from Mindanao, Fr. Abel was elected president. He is younger than me but he was trusted by his fellow priests to lead them.

Very impressive. Mindanao is an island constantly haunted by conflict. It is a beautiful and fertile island and yet peace seems elusive for people living here. The challenge is greater for Fr Abel who hails from Calinan, Davao City.

His journey as a priest and as a leader caught the eye of the Vatican. The Holy Father chose him to be a bishop and to lead the flock of the Diocese of Mati. So many were surprised but they were happy to know he was the choice of the Vatican.

He is not gifted with height. But God gifted him with wisdom and the art of human relations. He connects with his priests and God’s people. His natural gift of person and brilliance cast him above the rest. Sui Generis.

I sought the help of a friend Fr. Pete Lamata, now the parish priest of St. Francis of Assisi parish in La Verna Hills subdivision, for an audience with him. Not anymore easy to just see Bishop Abel in his office in Mati because of his hectic schedule. So I asked Fr. Pete to arrange a sked with him.

Finally we were given the chance to visit him. He welcomed us in his residence in Mati with a snack and later, lunch. I was with Fr. Pete, his college professor at St Francis Xavier Seminary.

Bishop Abel remains the Abel that I saw in college, except that he has the stature now of reverence and power. But he is very simple.

I discussed with him and his priests the target of Chairman Ramirez to allow the children to play in his diocese. Bishop Abel expressed excitement of children in his diocese playing sports.

So in a short while, we will gather the little stars to play at the diocese of Mati.

Posted in Opinion