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Archbishop Legazpi dies at 78

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Former Caceres Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi, one of the Dominican prelates, passed away this morning, the Feast of St. Dominic, after a long battle with cancer.

“Nanding” as referred to by his classmate Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, died at the UST Hospital at 5:00 A.M. today at the age of 78.

He was born in Meycauayan, Bulacan on November 25, 1935 and was ordained priest of the Order of Friars Preachers on Devember 17,1960. He was later appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila at age 41 on June 25, 1977 under Archbishop Jaime L. Cardinal Sin.

He was ordained to the episcopate on August 8, 1977 by the Papal Nuncio to the Philippine Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani and Juan Velasco Diaz then Bishop of Xiamen and Jesuit Bishop Federico Escaler, then Bishop of Kidapawan.

Archbishop Legaspi was appointed Archbishop of Caceres, then 47 years old, on October 20, 1983 and retired on September 8, 2012 at age 76.

Archdiocese of Caceres’ Social Communications Director Fr. Louie Occiano, said the late archbishop succumbed to lung cancer.

Known for his deep devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Bicolandia’s patroness, Archbishop Legaspi spent hours before the miraculous icon praying he survive the disease until after the 300th anniversary celebration of the devotion in September 2010. He was found to be suffering from lung cancer in 2009.

Archbishop Legaspi was the first Filipino rector of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas from 1971 to 1977.

Archbishop Cruz said the late Archbishop Legazpi “did his assignment – and did it very well indeed.”

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani, Jr. described Archbishop Legaspi as “A giant among bishops – a leader with vision and integrity and with huge achievements, especially initiating and leading the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines.”

Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo said it was Archbishop Legaspi who led the country to Church renewal as president of the Second Plenary Council in 1991 when he served President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines from 1987 to 1991.

Fr. Benito Tuazon, Minister of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Ecology Desk credits the late Caceres prelate for his pastoral letter entitled “What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land?” in 1988.

His remains lie in state at the Chapel of the University of Santo. Tomas in Manila from today to Monday, August 11 and at the Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City from Monday, August 11 to Wednesday, August 13,2014.

He will be interred at the Santuario de Santo Domingo after the 2:00 P.M. Funeral Mass at the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City in time for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Fund for Retired and Sick priests during the funeral wake in Naga City or The Fund for the Educational Assistance of the Seminarians of the Dominican Province of the Philippines for the duration of the funeral wake in Manila.

In a statement released today, Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria-Tirona, OCD, and the Brothers of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, his family and friends request the pious readers to pray for his eternal rest. (Melo M. Acuna)

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