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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

First Bishop of Virac, Fourth Bishop of Legazpi Jose C. Sorra dies at 91

Former Legazpi Bishop Jose C. Sorra, the country’s oldest bishop, dies at 91

MANILA – Bishop Jose Crisologo Sorra, known in Albay and Catanduanes as “Mamo Ping” passed away early this morning due to respiratory failure secondary to pulmonary embolism.

Legazpi Bishop Joel Z. Baylon, in his Diocesan Circular issued today declared Tuesday, January 26 as the “Diocesan day of Mourning.”

Bishop Baylon said the charismatic and prolific writer “Mamo Ping” was born on March 9,1929 in Malinao, Albay to Gabriel del Leon-Sorra and Catalina Rojas-Crisologo (both deceased). He came from the ancestral Arcilla clan of Virac, Catanduanes. He took his high school at Holy Rosary Minor Seminary, Naga City and studied Philosophy and Theology at Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Science in Education in UST, Manila and graduate degree in Education in Fordham University in New York, USA in 1970. He was conferred the degree of Doctor of Humanities in UST, Manila in 1999.

He was ordained priest in the Diocese of Legazpi in March 17,1956 and made Parochial Vicar in St. Stephen Parish, Ligao, Albay and was Director of the Boys Department at St. Benedict’s Academy in Guinobatan, in 1960. He was named Vice Rector and Principal, Literary Moderator of St. Gregory, The Great Minor Seminary in Tabaco, Albay from 1961-1968.

He became parochial vicar of Holy Innocents Parish in Bayonne, New Jersey, USA from 1969-1971.

From 1972-74, he became National Director of the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines and Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

He was appointed first Bishop of Virac in Catanduanes province on May 27,1974 and had his episcopal ordination on August 28,1974. He served the diocese for 13 years.

From 1974-1986, he was Chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth. However, by March 1,1993, he was appointed Bishop of Legazpi and from 1992 to 1996, he was a member of the CBCP Permanent Council. From 1996 to 2022, he was a member of the NASSA Board, the social action arm of the CBCP, National Secretariat of Social Action, Justice and Peace.

During his time as Bishop of Legazpi, he organized a welfare plan for the clergy and erected Bethlehem Pastoral and Retreat Center for the continuing formation of the lay and the clergy. He hosted the first Diocesan Synod of Legazpi and served Bishop of Legazpi for 12 years.

He published books entitled “Crumbs,” a series of reflections on his pastoral life and ministry and proceeds of the book helped indigent seminarians and out-of-school youth hoping to acquire either vocational or academic courses. He retired in May 24,2005 and resided and Bethlehem Pastoral Center in Bacacay, Albay.

The wake will be at the Good Shepherd Chapel at the Albay Cathedral compound. Concelebrated Masses will be held every 5:00 P.M. from tomorrow, Friday, January 22 with the Third Vicariate, Saturday, January 23 with the Second Vicariate, Sunday, January 24 with the Association of Consecrated Persons in Legazpi (ACPIL), Monday, January 25 with the First Vicariate.

On Tuesday, January 26, a Farewell Mass will be presided by Bishop Joel Z. Baylon at 8:00 A.M. The Diocese of Legazpi has declared January 26,2021 as its Day of Mourning and there will be a simultaneous ringing of church bells at 12:00 Noon as a sign of grateful remembrance of the late bishop.

A send-off motorcade from Albay Cathedral to Tabaco City via Sabloyon Road passing through the parishes in Daraga, Malabog, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao, Batang, San Antonio, San Vicente and Tabaco. Parish churches have been asked to right their church bells as the hearse passes by.

Bishop Sorra will be laid to rest at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Virac, Catanduanes at a later date. (Melo M. Acuña)

Bishop Jose C. Sorra. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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