By Msgr. Regie Pamposa
When news broke last October 25, 2020 that Archbishop Jose Advincula Jr. was named by Pope Francis as one of the 13 new cardinals from all over the world, the relatively small and less prominent but humble province of Capiz was more than surprised and thrilled, rather skeptical to some extent, if such news is real.
But news about a new cardinal from Capiz started to swell in the social media, and all of a sudden, a surge of queries arose about an unknown and hardworking Capizeño archbishop becoming one of the newly elected cardinals.
Seemingly stunned and in utter disbelief that his name is included in the list of new cardinals, Monsignor Joe became the focus of the incessant barrage of text messages, calls and congratulatory messages in social media. Could it not be a hoax, a prank, or a late April Fools’ Day? He later quipped.
It can be a mispronunciation or a case of mistaken identity, according to him, for there are other bishops in the Visayas region carrying the name Jose: Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo of Jaro, Iloilo, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, and Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-oc of Kalibo.
His companion-priests, Fathers Anthony Bautista and Mico Dellera, however, were quick to verify the news with their smartphones.
In a few seconds, the recorded video clip of Pope Francis at the veranda of the Vatican apartment in Rome was played. And the pope, speaking in Italian, was unmistakably clear: Monsignor Jose Advincula, arcivescovo di Capiz, Filippine.
Roma locuta est, Rome has spoken, the new Filipino cardinal-elect is no less than the humble, simple, unassuming but hardworking Capizeño archbishop, the Most Rev. Jose Advincula Jr., the ninth Filipino cardinal.
Minutes later, the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Capiz, Monsignor Cyril Villareal, and some priests rushed to the archbishop’s residence where the newly elected cardinal, who just finished his dinner and was about to pray, remained calm and utterly overwhelmed, without any hint of entitlement or aggrandizement.
He later admitted, in a live one-on-one interview with Father Emilio Arbatin, that the honor of being chosen as a cardinal is not all his, but recognition as well of the pastoral work of his priests and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Capiz.
That fateful night of October 25, Sunday, was by far a historic moment, but surely one of his longest nights, as Archbishop Advincula was slowly absorbing and musing as well, not about the new title and honor bestowed on him, but the corresponding responsibility and expectations that lie ahead.
Thus, a new journey for the cardinal, at 68, begins to unfold.
As the third Archbishop of Capiz, having succeeded the late Archbishop Onesimo Gordoncillo, Cardinal Advincula suddenly rose to prominence, hogging the limelight, both in local and national news, including the social media.
The nation celebrated in jubilation the election of another Filipino to the much-respected cardinalate together with the cardinal-elect of Washington D.C., U.S.A., and other countries.
Notably, no Filipino cleric had made it to the list of new cardinals in the past three consistories summoned by Pope Francis.
The last Filipino cardinal-elect was His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo of Cotabato but who is no longer eligible to vote in the next papal conclave having reached the age of 80.
Everyone else cannot but be more than overjoyed and exceedingly proud that a Capizeño has been chosen as the newest Filipino cardinal, joining the ranks of illustrious and well-known Filipino prelates who have served and graced the Philippine Church and the country, namely, Rufino Santos of Pampanga, Julio Rosales of Samar, Jaime Sin of Aklan, Ricardo Vidal of Marinduque, Jose Sanchez of Catanduanes, Gaudencio Rosales of Batangas, Luis Antonio Tagle of Cavite, and Orlando Quevedo of Ilocos Norte and South Cotabato.
Capiz, whose capital is Roxas City, the birthplace of the fifth president of the Philippines, Manuel Roxas, is a relatively small and laid-back province.
On the other hand, the Archdiocese of Capiz, a less-prominent ecclesiastical province with two suffragan dioceses, Kalibo (Aklan) and Romblon, comprises 64 parishes and missions station churches, with more or less 135 priests including a few religious priests and sisters.
To many Capizeños, the cardinal-elect is simply known as Monsignor Joe, while most priests and former seminarians from Capiz, Aklan, Romblon, Iloilo, Bacolod, Kabankalan, San Carlos, Antique, including those from Pangasinan, Vigan, and other parts of northern Luzon simply call him Fr. Joad or Apo Joe, an abbreviation of his long name JOSE LAZARO FUERTE ADVINCULA JR.
A story goes that when Father Joe was assigned as a professor at St. Joseph Regional Seminary of the Archdiocese of Jaro, Iloilo, there was another priest-professor whose name was also Jose, the former rector of the said seminary. He is no less than Monsignor Jose Palma, the current archbishop of Cebu.
To dispel the confusion between the two Joses, shorter names were used, thus, the then Father Jose Advincula became “Joad” and the former Father Jose Palma was fondly called “Jopal.”
Almost two decades later, these two endearing priest-formators have emerged in the Philippine Church as equally important not only for their leadership in the see or territory they represent, but also for their exemplary service to the Church in various capacities as a professor, seminary rector, and pastor of some parishes.*