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Most Rev. Rex Andrew Alarcon – The New Archbishop of Caceres

by Joel V. Ocampo

On Thursday, February 22, 2024, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed His Excellency Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, D.D., until now the Bishop of Daet, as the new Archbishop of Caceres in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

Archbishop Rex Alarcon was born in Daet, Camarines Norte on August 6, 1970 on the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. He studied secondary education at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary, Naga City; Bachelor of Arts Major in Philosophy at the Holy Rosary College Seminary in Naga City; Bachelor in Sacred Theology, Master of Arts in Higher Religious Studies, Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in the University of Santo Tomas (UST). He also obtained Licenza in Storia Della Chiesa (Licentiate in Church History) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2001.

He was ordained as Deacon of Caceres on November 11, 1995; and received his Ordination to the Sacred Order of Presbyters on November 9, 1996. On March 19, 2019 on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, he was ordained as Bishop at the St. John the Evangelist, Cathedral, Naga City, through the laying of hands of Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, the Archbishop of Caceres. The following day, he was installed as the fourth Bishop of Daet, succeeding Most Rev. Gilbert A. Garcera, D.D. who was appointed as Archbishop of Lipa. 

Previous Assignments

As a priest, the then Fr. Rex Alarcon serve in the following ministries:

  • Parochial Vicar, Cathedral-Parish of St. John the Evangelist (1996-1997);

  • Secretary to the Archbishop (1997-1999);

  • Faculty of Philosophy, Holy Rosary Minor Seminary (1997-1998);

  • Faculty of Theology, Holy Rosary Major Seminary (1997-1999);

  • Associate Pastor, Saint Gertrude's Roman Catholic Church, Bayville, New York City (Summer 2000);

  • Formator and Director of Spiritual Formation, Holy Rosary Major Seminary (2001-2003);

  • Assistant Director, Family Ministry in Caceres (2002-2004);

  • Director, Stewardship Program of the Archdiocese of Caceres (2002-2017);

  • Archdiocesan Archivist and Chronicler (2003-2010);

  • Superintendent, Naga Parochial School (2007);

  • Superintendent, Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Caceres;

  • President, Catholic Educational Association of Caceres and Libmanan (2012-2018);

  • President, Bikol Association of Catholic Schools (2012-2016); 

  • President, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (2016); and

  • Trustee-at-large, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.

As a bishop, he served in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in the following ministries:

  • Member, Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (2019-2021);

  • Member, Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities (2019-2021); and

  • Chairman, Episcopal Commission on Youth (2019 to present).

Shepherd and Educator 

As a shepherd who worked in the Education and Formation Ministry, Archbishop Rex Alarcon emphasized the following points during the CEAP Convention Closing Mass in 2019:

  • Teaching and preaching is service; and we preach with our lives.

  • Our young are interested to know ‘Who they are to us.’ In view of this, we can ask ourselves: Do we really know our young people: our pupils and students, in the flesh? Do we provide space and time to truly listen to them?

  • Brothers and sisters, may we have enough time for and with the young. They are not dependent on us. Without them, we have no work. They are not an interruption. They are the purpose of the school.

  • The young are persons, like us, needing recognition, appreciation for what they can do, seeking answers, seeking inspirations, longing for a family.

  • Brothers and sisters, following Jesus is not simply a professional endeavor. ‘Hindi trabaho lang.’ Hindi trabaho lang ang pagtuturo at ang paghahanapbuhay; as well as shepherding the school. Our investigation, research, teaching and governance – all that we do is not ‘trabaho lang’. It is something personal, as they involve the totality of our person. We are called to be examples of this to our young.

  • Our young/our pupils and students, need to see that our teaching and our preaching, our running of the school is not ‘trabaho lang’. It is our life and our calling.

  • Like Jesus we teach by example; and the best example for the young is our lives. Our lives are the best books, the living instructional material.

  • May we show the young that our Faith is not like a uniform that can be hanged in the closet on non-class days. They need to see that our Faith is in our skin, and our blood. The people of our time want to see a living faith.

  • May we show that our faith in Jesus, in the Trinity brings us joy and hope. The absence of God, leads to despair. We have the Gospel which brings us joy – the joy of the Gospel.

  • The heart of Catholic Education is knowing and befriending Jesus and knowing God more deeply.

  • A single person can make a difference in the lives of others. A single young person can initiate change for the better. Yes, youth can, yes, we can.

  • We are Catholic Educators who believe in the power of goodness and truth. We believe in the power of the cross, for the cross is the symbol of love and life. We believe justice is possible. We believe love is stronger than fear; that mercy and forgiveness heal.

As for the youth, Archbishop Alarcon once said in 2023, “Stop blaming others. Stop blaming circumstances. Rather, take responsibility for your future. Normally, the older generation feel responsible for the young. So, they are the ones who take the lead in shaping the future of the younger generation. But this mentality should be modified. The youth of today must be in the driver’s seat. They must take charge. Let us fight selfishness, indifference and apathy. Let us choose to care, to engage and make good choices. Our freedom is perfected by constantly choosing the good. Choosing evil is an abuse of our freedom.”

Finally, as we continue our celebration of the Lenten Season, let us reflect on the words of Archbishop Alarcon in one of his homilies, “On the cross, while others see failure and defeat, we see life and victory –the power of God’s mercy and love.”

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