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Requiescat in Pace Bishop Hobayan

by Joel V. Ocampo

On March 11, 2023, Most Rev. Angel T. Hobayan, DD, JCD, Bishop-Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Catarman in Northern Samar, considered as the country’s oldest bishop passed away at the age of 93. He passed away exactly 48 years after Pope Paul VI decreed the creation of the Diocese of Catarman on March 11, 1975, and 18 years after Pope John Paul II accepted his retirement on March 10, 2005.

Early Life of Bishop Hobayan

Bishop Hobayan was born on December 11, 1929 in the Municipality of Taft, but grew up in Dolores. Both municipalities are located in the province of Eastern Samar. His parents, Angel Hobayan, Sr. of the town of Can-avid (Eastern Samar) and Fermina Tec-I of Paranas (Western Samar) were both educators by profession. Bishop Hobayan took his seminary formation and theological studies at the St. Vincent de Paul College Seminary, Calbayog City, and in Seminario Mayor de San Carlos in Cebu City. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Calbayog on March 25, 1955.

Priestly Ministry of Bishop Hobayan

According to Rev. Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD, Vicar General of the Diocese of Borongan (Eastern Samar), and a well-known Church historian, Bishop Hobayan was assigned to the following:

  • assistant parish priest in Catubig, Northern Samar in 1955-1956;

  • assistant parish priest in Calbayog in 1956-1957;

  • parish priest in Borongan in 1957;

  • Vicarius Economus (Priest-in-Charge) of Gandara, Samar in 1957;

  • parish priest of Our Lady of Angels in Can-avid in 1958-1961;

  • parish priest of San Antonio De Padua Parish, Llorente, Eastern Samar (1967).

When Pontificio Collegio Filippino opened in Rome in 1961, the Most Rev. Vicente Reyes, first Bishop of Borongan, sent him to the Eternal City (Rome) where he worked for a doctorate degree in Canon Law at the Lateran University from 1961 to 1964. His dissertation was entitled, “Confirmation, the Sacrament of Lay Apostolate.” This made him the first canon lawyer of the Diocese. While in Rome, he was appointed first Rector of Seminario de Jesus Nazareno in Borongan, upon its establishment on June 16, 1965. He assumed the post of rectorship upon return from Rome in 1965. He held the position of Vicar General from 1966 to 1967. He became the Vicar Capitular (Diocesan Administrator) of the Diocese of Borongan when Bishop Reyes was appointed Bishop of Cabanatuan in 1967, leaving the Diocese of Borongan sede vacante.

On June 18, 1968, the second bishop of Borongan, Most Rev. Godofredo Pedernal Pisig was installed. The new bishop appointed Father Hobayan to the following positions:

  • Vicar General of the Diocese of Borongan (1973);

  • Rector of Seminario de Jesus Nazareno (1973);

  • Protonotary Apostolic with the title Monsignor.

Episcopal Ministry of Bishop Hobayan

It was Pope Paul VI who appointed him as the first Bishop of Catarman on December 12, 1974. The then Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Bruno Torpigliani ordained him bishop on March 5, 1975, at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady in Borongan. On March 11, the Papal Nuncio installed him as the first Residential Bishop of the Diocese of Catarman at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Catarman, Northern Samar. On March 10, 2005, he retired as Bishop of Catarman after reaching the compulsory age of retirement of 75. He was succeeded by His Excellency Most Rev. Emmanuel C. Trance, D.D., the second residential Bishop.

Bishop Hobayan is also recognized as the founder of John Paul Seminary, a seminary in the Diocese of Catarman, founded in 1976, during his first year as a bishop.

Msgr. Robredillo best remembered him as “a humble bishop, and, as priests who have gone ahead of us told me, he has never uttered anything negative about his fellow priests.”

Marching to Heaven

Most of the important events in the life of Bishop Hobayan happened on the month of March:

  • March 25, 1955 – Sacerdotal Ordination

  • March 05, 1975 – Episcopal Ordination

  • March 11, 1975 – creation of the Diocese of Catarman

  • March 11, 1975 – installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Catarman

  • March 10, 2005 – retired as Bishop of the Diocese of Catarman

  • March 11, 2023 – departed from this life

Now, after having fulfilled his mission on earth, Bishop Hobayan marches with the angels on his way to heaven where the Master will welcome him saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy” (Mt. 25:21).

Let us pray.

O God, who chose your servant, Bishop Angel T. Hobayan from among your Priests, and endowed him with pontifical dignity in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we pray, that he may also be admitted to their company for ever. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

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