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Archive for December 28, 2017


Homily delivered by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas during the Eucharistic celebration wherein Rev. Christopher T. Quimo and Rev. Jake J. Rovillos were ordained as priests, 27 December 2017, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Dagupan City.

The first Pangasinense priest was a twenty four year old man from Lingayen named Father Eustaquio Benson ordained in 1783. He studied at Colegio de San Juan de Letran and was valedictorian of his class. He was ordained by Archbishop Sancho for the Diocese of Nueva Segovia and was described as an intellectual, competent and highly qualified and at the same time, very humble and faithful to the gift of the priesthood.

He received his doctorate in canon law from the University of Santo Tomas and became the first Filipino doctor of canon law. Bishop Ruiz wrote about him in these words: He is a very good priest but still very young because he is only twenty seven years old. He is the only one I have here who could serve as provisor and the next Vicar General.” He served the bishop’s secretary and became parish priest of Vigan.

Bishop Blaquier wrote to the King of Spain about Father Benson and described him as talented, prudent and above all quite efficient in his tasks.

Father Eustaquio Benson first Pangasinense priest, first Filipino doctor of canon law. First and outstanding. First in excellence, in devotion and piety.

Today two hundred thirty four years later, four years after we opened the first theology seminary in Pangasinan, we are marking a historic milestone in the ordination of Christopher Kenneth Quimo and Jake Rovillos. We have twin first born. Christopher and Jake will go down in Pangasinan church history as the first harvest of the Mary Help of Christians Theology Seminary. Six years ago, when we started the construction of our seminary, we declared that this seminary will be a legacy that will transcend our lifetime.

Today, we are seeing the legacy unfolding and the future arriving right before our doorsteps. Christopher and Jake are our first with hope for many more to come!

They are like Adam the first man; like Jesus the first born; like Peter the first Pope; like Stephen the first martyr; like King Humabon the first Filipino Christian; like Lorenzo Ruiz the first Filipino martyr; like Aguinaldo the first Philippine President; like Bishop Jorge Barlin the first Filipino bishop; like Bishop Cesar Maria Guerrero our first bishop; like Cardinal Santos the first Filipino Cardinal; like Father Eustaquio Benson our first priest.

What an honor to be first but what I great responsibility too!

Because you are our first ordination from the seminary, you must also be first in many others.

You must be the first to preach the Gospel; first in the reverent offering of the Mass; first in studying the Word of God; first to go to confession; first in praying the Liturgy of the Hours; first to live a recollected and pious life. Being the first is a great honor that will go down in history pages but to whom much is given much is also expected.

You must be the first to show charity to those who need counsel; first to visit the elderly and the imprisoned, first to visit the bed ridden and the handicapped; first to love the children who need to be catechized; first in devotion to Mary Help of Christians. You must be first to obey your Archbishop without question; first in modesty of dress and first in simplicity of life.

You must the first in courage to defend the Church, first in self-sacrifice; first to say no to mediocrity and pride; first in penance for your sins and for others; first in attending clergy meetings and first to attend the clergy retreats; first to listen to your brother priests in need; first to answer when the poor call for help; first to smile and console.

You must be first in openness, patience and kindness; first to give and constantly give; first in friendliness and care for the people; first to stoop down to wash the feet of your brethren; first in holiness; first in love, first in hope; first in faith and first to trust in the Lord.

But not all is first with you Christopher and Jake. Because you are our twin first, you must also be the last in many things.

You must be the last to last to forget the goodness of the Lord; the last in anger and revenge; the last to withdraw from standing up for the Lord; the last to give up and the last to get discouraged.

Because you are the first helper priest of the Mary Help of Christians Seminary, you must be the last in the line for the buffet table; the last to ask for a discount in the store; the last to receive rewards and awards; the last to receive gratitude and applause.

You must be the last to complain that life is unfair; the last to criticize the bishops and the Pope; the last to gossip about priests and seminarians; the last to grumble and whine; the last with privileges and entitlements.

Remember that Christ who calls you to follow Him is God who is the first and the last and everything. You may have the honor to be the first harvest of our seminary but your calling is neither to be the first nor to be the last. You are called by Christ to be like Him. Be the first as Christ is first. Be at the last and find Christ in the last too. In everything, do all for the glory of Christ and for love of Him.

So Father Christopher and Father Jake? Who are you?

You are first not through yourself but through God. God first; not you!

You will be written in our history books for the next generations as the first harvest of our seminary, not through yourself but through God. God is the Immovable Mover, not you!

You are first to love therefore you must be last to turn cold.

Who are you? You are nothing called to be everything. You are first even if you are nothing.

You are our first gift to God and God’s first blessing to us. This is too much to understand. What a grace! What a blessing! Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ! Now and forever.


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