The Commission would be following the prescribed Church procedures that are implemented by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Vidal said the Congregation of the Saints investigates the life and virtues of the candidates and then recommends them to the Holy Father.
“In the diocesan commission, we examine the life and ministry of the candidate. Then we examine the possibility of a miracle. After that, when we have finished it, we close the process and bring that to Rome,” he said.
Rome begins its own investigation. Then a group of international medical experts would conduct its own probe, to see whether our examination was fair. Then the College of Theologians, then the Pope,” Vidal said.
During the Commission’s meeting on August 14, 2012, Bishop Rañola suggested that they put up a guild or an association that can help promote the cause of beatification of Archbishop Camomot. This group will be composed of men and women who really knew him and whose encounter with the archbishop left a great impact on their lives. In response to this advise, the group “Mga Higala ni Teofilo” (Friends of Teofilo) was created, comprised of priests, religious, and lay people who continue to find inspiration in the life and pastoral ministry of the late archbishop. The members also pledge to commit themselves to prayer, as well as to perform acts of compassion and service, as their way of emulating and living out the heroic virtues of this Servant of God.
Throughout his mission on earth, Archbishop Teofilo Camomot had only one desire: the salvation of souls. He worked tirelessly to imitate Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in caring for those under his pastoral supervision. Likewise, he mirrored the zeal and ardor of the Apostles in preaching, defending and evangelizing about the Catholic faith, thus converting scores of non-believers and renewing the faith of the lapsed. He never raised his voice in anger, but was merciful to the poor and the oppressed. His selfless dedication in attending to the needs of his parishioners and of fellow priests was known to and admired by all. The only hours he kept to himself were those spent kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in intimate and silent communion with his Beloved.
Many would recall how Monsignor Camomot would often ask the people around him: “Do you know where God is?” And when they hesitated to answer, he would smile with paternal understanding and gently remind them: “God is in the heart.”
Without a doubt, Teofilo Bastida Camomot walked the path of sanctity with the presence of God always in his heart… Just as he was — and will always be — present in the heart of God.
On the morning of September 22, 2012, I celebrated a novena mass at the chapel of the Daughters of Saint Teresa in Valladolid, Carcar City, Cebu. Fr. Dennis Baricuatro was supposed to be there but he could not make it. Everything went fine.
I came back to the foundation in the afternoon and continued working on my contribution to the biography project on the life and works of my uncle, Archbishop Teofilo Camomot. I noticed that every time I moved while working on the computer, I experienced excruciating pain in the upper half of my body. At one point, I could not bear it anymore and I requested to be brought to the hospital, where I underwent laboratory tests right away.
Four days later, I requested the doctor to let me go back to Valladolid to commemorate the 24th death anniversary of my Tiyo Lolong, since I had already made a commitment to preach in the concelebrated mass. Personally, I also made this promise to Tiyo Lolong, to ask his forgiveness for all my misgivings when I assisted him at the parish of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, Pardo, Cebu City. I realized that I needed to do this after studying and reflecting on the testimonials made by people who knew him. Sadly, I took him for granted when we were living together and gave him all sorts of problems.
However, the doctor advised me not to leave the hospital because I was seriously ill. In fact, I could not even walk. I told him that whether I died that same day or the next, it was all the same to me. But I could not fail my uncle. Seeing my determination, he asked me to sign a waiver, which I did. Because I was immobile, I went to see another doctor who gave me an intravenous medication that enabled me to walk. The very next day, I went to Carcar to concelebrate mass and preach. I asked my uncle to forgive me for everything that I had done against him. After that experience, I became very happy and felt that I was ready to go.
After lunch I came back to the foundation, thanking God and Tiyo Lolong for my feeling of contentment. But then, in the afternoon, I was again paralyzed. I could not move the lower part of my body. My family wanted to bring me to the hospital but I refused. I told them that they didn’t have to worry because I was ready to face my Creator. But they insisted and asked some relatives to convince me to go. They told me that this is the best thing to do, not only for myself but also for the rest of the family.
When we arrived at the hospital, the same doctor who asked me to sign a waiver finally informed us that I had prostate cancer. It had reached Stage 4 and was terminal. I was given radiation therapy to prevent my thoracic spine from collapsing. Many people advised me to ask my late uncle, Msgr. Camomot, to intercede for a miracle on my behalf. I told them that I cannot do that for the simple reason that he had already given me the greatest gift, which is the realization of my unworthiness before God and turning around to make of my life much better and to escape eternal damnation.
I stayed in the hospital for more than a month and surprisingly, my condition improved and I eventually got better. Deep down inside, I knew and felt that my uncle had accompanied me throughout this challenging period. On Christmas Day in 2012, I had a thanksgiving mass celebrated at the DST chapel in gratitude for the new lease on my life. I can now move around again with the help of a walker. I thank God, our Blessed Mother, my Tiyo Lolong and all those who have stormed heaven with prayers for my recovery. I am offering my life now to deserve this of the God of mercy and compassion.
REV. FR. OSCAR CAMOMOT
Nephew of Arcbishop Teofilo B. Camomot
I first met my uncle, Archbishop Teofilo Camomot, in April 1971 at the El Pardo Parish Rectory in El Pardo, Cebu City. My mother – who was his first cousin — requested him to be my benefactor in my seminary studies since I had already finished one year of Philosophy at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, Leyte.
Without much ado, he said “yes”, but under the condition that I would belong to the Archdiocese of Cebu so that he can be with me and guide me accordingly. Since then, we became practically inseparable until I was ordained a priest in 1978. And even when I was already a priest, he always visited my parish. He was truly a father figure to me, especially since I lost my own father at the age of 13.
What are the things that I cannot forget about Archbishop Teofilo Camomot?
First of all, his humility and simplicity of life. In the way he dealt with his parishioners, he never projected the image of a lord, a king or a man of a power. Instead, he exemplified the image of a humble servant of God. For instance, despite his position, he would ride a motorbike or drive around in a dilapidated vehicle to visit his parishioners. Comfort was never in his lifestyle. He simply enjoyed what was served and offered to him as he visited the most remote villages of his parish. At times, he even walked through rough terrain and dirt roads, without a single complaint coming from his lips.
He was a man of God because he was a man of prayer. Prayerfulness is a lifestyle trait he was very consistent and faithful about. He seemed to be in a 24-hour, unending communication with the Lord. His spiritual “recharging” came from God during those prayerful moments. The more time he spent on his personal prayers, the more energized he became. His pastoral zeal to serve is drawn out from prayers.
He was an icon of God’s love made visible. Charity is at its highest level in him. He was exceedingly generous towards the marginalized. His heart was all for the poor, in whom he saw the suffering, hungry and sick Christ. He gave everything he had to the poor. He even pawned or sold whatever few precious things he had in his possession in order to help the needy souls that came to him for help. He was indeed the epitome of God’s love and forgiveness.
He embraced poverty of life as a way of living out the evangelical counsel. Poverty, for Archbishop Camomot, was to possess God and to be possessed by God. Christ was everything to him — his greatest treasure. If everything you have is Christ, then you have everything. His spirituality of stewardship allowed him to share his blessings and live a simple life according to his basic needs. You would never see him in possession of any expensive or luxurious items, and even when he sometimes received these as gifts, he gave them away immediately. He lived and died poor, so that the lives of others may be enriched by his poverty.
He had a pastoral zeal to serve unselfishly and faithfully. It was amazing to see an archbishop of his age who never said “no” to any sick call or confession. He even welcomed being assigned to say mass in a remote barangay rather
than in the parish church. He visited his parishioners riding his motorcycle and was untiring when the call for pastoral responsibilities demanded his presence. For him, the call for salvation for him was a 24-hour moral and pastoral obligation to be responded to.
He was a loving father to his DST community. He displayed the shining examples of paternal affection and concern in shepherding his sisters. He was always available to lend his hand or his ears to any concern that demanded his paternal presence and counsel. This benevolent leadership in shepherding and witnessing inspired his religious community to be formed according to the heart of the Master Jesus, and shaped according to the heart of its beloved founder, Archbishop Camomot.
Indeed, his aura of holiness and examples of virtue are his legacy for people to imitate and live out in their daily lives. My own priestly vocation is an example of Archbishop Camomot’s generosity made visible. I had learned to internalize his ways of charity and generosity. How I wish that by one way or another, I can reflect God’s love upon the faithful by imitating the
life of Archbishop Camomot.
If there is something that people miss most about him, it is this: An archbishop who breaks bread and empties his pockets for the poor that they may be full and rich by God’s generosity and love, and a pastor of the church who is always available and reaches out towards the poor, the sick and the abandoned in need.
REV. FR. RAMON FRED C. OFREDO
Committee of Experts on Historical Matter
for the Cause of the Beatification of
Archbishop Teofilo B. Camomot, D.D.
Archdiocese of Cebu
Sworn testimonial of Mrs. Violeta Montelibano Borres, 87 years old, from Iloilo City, who first met Monsignor Camomot in 1955:
I first heard about Archbishop Teofilo B. Camomot from my sister, Sis. Gertrude of Jesus Crucified, OCD, who was living at that time in the Discalced Carmelite convent in Cebu. (She later became one of the founders of the convent in Jolo.) She informed me about Monsignor Camomot who was then resting in Cebu Carmel previous to his as auxiliary bishop of Jaro. My sister told me that during his stay with them, they noticed that he was very holy and advised me to take him as my confessor.
During this time, I had been married for ten years and had seven children. We invited Monsignor Camomot to our house and he soon became part of the family. I was also working in the fishing business and employed around 500 workers, for whom teaching catechism was part of my daily routine. Soon, Monsignor also became our consultant in religious matters. Eventually, all the couples were married in Church and most became members of a Marian organization dedicated to saying the Rosary daily.
On one occasion, I had to finish the work of my husband in Manila and I was at a loss, as it involved constructing a breakwater for the harbor. I could not imagine how I could organize the workers from Manila as I did not even know how to speak Tagalog. I consulted Monsignor Camomot and he reminded me of the promises of the Sacred Heart: “I will bless them in their undertakings”. He reminded me of how many times I have completed the nine-day novenas. “Trust in Jesus”, is all he said. I was able to finish the job in three months. I experienced many miracles during the work and later, an official of the Bureau of Public Works told me that it was the first time that kind of job was completed in only three months and during the rainy season at that. It was truly the answer to the prayers which Monsignor Camomot
promised before my departure for Manila.
Adding to my burdens at the time was that I was also having marital problems; my husband had left home. Monsignor Camomot advised me to write a letter to my husband and I agreed but it took a while for me to do it… until I finally did, out of obedience to the monsignor. In 1956, I was reconciled with my husband and our son, Francis, was born the following year. It was the monsignor who baptized and confirmed him and even stood as godfather to our son. I bore four more children and he would tell me that I now had “12 apostles”. For the complete conversion of my husband, I asked the monsignor to fast for him because he told me that: “this kind of sin can be taken out with fasting, prayers and alms-giving”. I also had the name of my husband engraved on a chalice. Although I am only recalling some memories of Monsignor Camomot during his stay in Jaro, he continued to be my confessor whenever I went to Cebu.
One time, while he was still in Iloilo, he brought to my office a teacher from a university ran by Protestants. Apparently, this teacher, after meeting Monsignor Camomot, started visiting the Blessed Sacrament and later became a Catholic. He brought the teacher to me and asked if I can give him a job.
I witnessed Monsignor Camomot’s attitude towards the poor — he never refused them, whatever the situation was. He had a listening ear and was interested in all the details of their stories, never once showing boredom or impatience. He was like a father who was concerned about everything that was happening. No one was ever turned away; everyone was welcome. All stories were heard and listened to. He was really Jesus in human form. Monsignor Camomot had really lived the life of Jesus, especially in His command that “whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers, you do it to Me”. I have never seen anyone practice this as perfectly as Monsignor Camomot.
April 30, 2012
Sworn testimonial of Mr. Teogenes C. Belleza, Sr., 92 years old, from Dumlog, Talisay City, on the pastoral ministry of Archbishop Camomot, his commitment to the poor, and how much he was loved and supported by his parishioners:
1. After Sunday mass, Monsignor Camomot usually visited the houses of people who were sick and brought medicines for them.
2. If he was free after his parochial obligations, he visited the families (at home) — especially of the poor — and brought them food and anything needed for the household.
3. All the people who were in need flocked to the convent, where they were given medicine, food, money. And if he ran out of things to give them, he looked for things offered to the altar that these people could use, including materials that were offered to make tablecloth for the altar.
4. Parishioners who can afford to share usually donated to Monsignor Camomot in cash or in kind to help him provide for those who sought his help.
5. People who came to visit him were also given copies of prayers or novenas to be said daily.
6. He always encouraged parents to teach their children how to pray.
7. Monsignor Camomot usually gave the needy all the money he had in his pocket, dividing this equally among them.
8. Personally, Monsignor Camomot was very close to my parents and he visited my family almost everyday after his round of home visitations. He was even the one who accompanied my family to ask for the hand of my future wife (following the Filipino tradition of “pamanhikan”).
9. When he was named Archbishop in Cagayan de Oro city, many parishioners from Talisay went all the way from Cebu to Mindanao just to witness the ceremony.
10. Wherever he was assigned in the different places of the Philippines, he always wrote to me on his different activities.
11. Even when he was assigned to other towns, if the people of Talisay knew he had a project, they would send him their help.
TEOGENES C. BELLEZA, Sr.
Dumlog, Talisay City
Prayer for the Process of the
Beatification of the Servant of God
ARCHBISHOP TEOFILO B. CAMOMOT
Almighty and ever-living God,
it was Your grace and the love of You
that made Your servant
devote his life to your service
as priest and bishop,
a life of self-abnegation, constant prayer
and generous love for the poor and the needy.
Grant that his virtues provide
a lasting example for all
and merit the approval of the Church
that he be raised to the altars.
As a sign of your benevolence
to Your servant’s cause,
we humbly implore You to bestow upon us
this favor… (mention your request)
in the name of Jesus, our Lord
who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever. Amen.
(One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory)
+Jose S. Palma
Archbishop of Cebu
Both the publisher and the author would like to express their deepest gratitude to His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, and His Excellency Jose S. Palma, Archbishop of Cebu, for their paternal guidance and encouragement in the publication of this book.
Our heartfelt appreciation also to His Excellency Bishop Antonio R. Rañola, Episcopal Delegate of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cause of Beatification of Archbishop Teofilo B. Camomot, for his constant support and for always motivating everyone in the Commission to work hard to promote the holy and virtuous life of our dear Monsignor Camomot. In addition, sincerest thanks to the members of the Commission, particularly Rev. Msgr. Dennis C. Villarojo, Rev. Msgr. Raul T. Go, Rev. Msgr. Cayetano M. Gelbolingo, and Rev. Msgr. Guillermo D. Gorre, for sharing with us their expertise in historical and theological matters, and most especially their fond memories of the late archbishop. We also recognize and express our gratitude to Rev. Fr. Ramon Fred C. Ofredo, for generously sharing with us the data he gathered from Jaro (Iloilo), Balingasag (Misamis Oriental) and Cagayan de Oro.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the assistance and participation of the many family members, friends, religious sisters from congregations that branched out from the Daughters of St. Teresa, and former parishioners of Archbishop Camomot who generously lent their time and effort in providing us with much needed testimonials, details and anecdotes that made the retelling of his virtuous life even more interesting and inspiring.
Thanks be to God!
About the Author
Angela Blardony Ureta is a seasoned producer and writer for television and radio programs. She is also a book author, editor and publisher, a production consultant for corporate, institutional and advocacy projects, as
well as a lecturer on media education.
Her credentials include over two decades of experience as Executive Producer and Head Writer for the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs Department, specializing in talk shows, newsmagazines and documentaries. Her most recent projects include the documentaries “EDSA 25” (finalist, 2011 New York Film and Television Festivals), “Banal: John Paul II” (winner, 2011 Catholic Mass Media Award and USTv Students’ Choice Award) and “San Pedro Calungsod” (winner, 2013 KBP Golden Dove Award). Other network positions held include Production Unit Head for the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) and Contributing Writer/Producer for the Guam-based Marianas Media.
Her first book, “A Pilgrim’s Diary: Passages and Inner Landscapes”, received the 2005 National Book Award for Best Design and was a finalist for Best Travel Book. The following year, a second book “Ballerina of the People” was named finalist for Best Biography in the same competition.Since 2007, she has served as Head Writer of Manila Broadcasting Company’s tele-radio talk show, “Art 2 Art” (three-time recipient of the Catholic Mass Media Award), and continues to run her own media consultancy, Treehouse Creative Village.
She was accepted as a lay associate of the Order of Carmelites Philippine Commissariat in 2010 and is currently a member of its Teresa of Avila community.