Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Monseñor Santos - a legacy "passes"

Monday, November 7, Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, turned 75. As legislated by canon law of the Catholic Church he had to submit a letter of resignation from his appointment as bishop of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán.

At about 5:00 am on Monday, Monseñor noted, he received a phone call telling him that the Pope had accepted his resignation and had appointed Monseñor Darwin Andino, auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, as the next bishop of Santa Rosa.

Monseñor had already planned a Mass that day with the priests of the diocese. Forty-one priests arrived to concelebrate the Mass with him in the Monseñor Romero auditorium on the grounds of the diocesan meeting center under construction just outside Santa Rosa.We started late for many reasons, including rain and muddy roads. As we left Santa Rosa for the Mass in pouring rain, I felt as if the heavens were crying!

The Mass was simple, a sharing of the celebration of Word and Eucharist with his brother priests and a few of us laypeople who came. During the homily Monseñor spoke about the changes, but very subtly.

He recalled that when Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero was named archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, the conservatives and the government officials were pleased since they thought he would favor their cause. But the death of Father Rutilio Grande and other events moved Romero to side with the poor. It is possible that the Holy Spirit can change the way one works.

The direction (linea) of the diocese needs to be continued, he noted. He is happy with the work of the parishes, with the base communities. The number of faithful has grown and that the work of evangelization continues in the diocese.
At the end of the prayers of the faithful, he recalled Jesus' prayer, "may all be one as You, Father, are in Me and I in You," (John 17, 21). He then prayed for communion between priests and the bishop and among the priests.

Monseñor will continue as apostolic administrator until early next year when Bishop Andino will be installed as bishop of Santa Rosa.

After that Monseñor Santos will continue his efforts supporting the poor and advocating changes for the good of Honduras, through the foundation in his name and through his work with the Alianza Cívica por la Democracia – the Civic Alliance for Democracy.

Monday afternoon the Alianza Cívica had a reception for Monseñor. A wide range of people came, including family members, a former student, a former mayor of Santa Rosa (Juan Carlos Elvir), people with the Alianza Cívica, the Mennonite director of OCDIH, and others. They shared their stories – some quite humorous. At the end of the reception Monseñor explained his episcopal shield with his motto “Mejor autem caritas” – "but the greatest is charity" from 1 Corinthians 13: 13.

Monseñor will be missed. Some are happy that this prophetic voice seems to have passed from the scene. But my guess is that his voice will not be silenced. 

The legacy of his commitment to the poor will continue, At the end of the Mass, Father Rudy Mejía, the vicar general of the diocese,  gave Monseñor Santos the first copy of the Third Pastoral Plan of the diocese which is meant to set the direction of the diocese for the next twelve years.

Later this month I hope to write a longer piece about Monseñor Santos detailing his long history of commitment to the poor and the marginalized. It needs to be heard, especially here in Honduras. 

Monseñor Santos and me, 7 November, 2011
 Thank God for the presence of Monseñor Santos here in the diocese of Santa Rosa for almost 28 years. May his legacy continue and may he continue to be a sign of the Good News of the Kingdom of God for the poor.

1 comment:

richmx2 said...

Msgr. Santos is well-respected by many of us in Latin America, in and out of the Church, and we hope he has many fruitful years ahead of him.

With a name like "Darwin", can we assume the new Bishop's views are likely to evolve?