Rome, Italy, Nov 3, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In Rome, hundreds of Filipinos gathered for Mass on Sunday to promote the cause of beatification of the Servant of God Alfredo Versoza y Florentin, who was Bishop of Lipa for 35 years.
The Mass was celebrated Oct. 29 at St. Mary of Sorrows parish by Archbishop Emeritus Ernesto Salgado of Nueva Segovia, where Bishop Versoza had grown up.
Many of those attending the Mass were migrants of the Ilocano people, a Filipino ethnic group from the northern portions of Luzon. Bishop Versoza was himself an Ilocano.
The Missionary of Catechists of the Sacred Heart, which was cofounded by the Servant of God, and the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia have pushed heavily for his beatification, especially in light of the 100th anniversary of his episcopal consecration.
Versoza’s cause for beatification was opened in 2013, and the diocesan phase was concluded last year.
Versoza was born in 1877, and ordained a priest in 1904. He was appointed Bishop of Lipa in 1916, and he remained in that post until his retirement in 1951 at the age of 73. He died in 1954.
He was the first Ilocano to be consecrated a bishop, and he was instrumental in fighting a 1902 schism that produced the Philippine Independent Church, which has since become part of the Anglican Communion.
His passion for catechesis lead him and Laura Mendoza to found the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart in 1923. The order is a congregation of nuns established to aid education and the administration of catechesis.
Numerous religious orders, such as the Carmelite Fathers, Pauline Fathers, and Pauline Sisters, were also brought the Lipa diocese at the bishop’s invitation.
A supposed Marian apparition occurred in Lipa in 1948, while Versoza was bishop. He approved the veneration of the alleged apparition, but a subsequent decision by fellow Filipino bishops judged that there was no supernatural intervention in the event. The Vatican has confirmed it does not consider the Lipa apparitions as supernatural in nature.