Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra led the blessing and inauguration of the Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich Avenue at the Reclamation Area in Bacolod City yesterday afternoon together with city officials led by Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson.
Fortich’s bones, his bishop’s ring and pectoral cross were transferred from the San Sebastian Cathedral to the chapel Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in the Cathedral, after the mass celebrated for 10th anniversary of his death yesterday.
The Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod had passed an ordinance on March 13, naming the street from the corner of Rizal and San Juan streets going towards the Reclamation Area, up to the western shoreline of Bacolod City as the “Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich Avenue.”
Along this strip is the City Ordinance 637 was authored by Councilor Homer Bais and co-authored by Councilor Archie Baribar, an ex-seminarian.
Navarra was presented a copy of the ordinance by members of the SP before the laying of a time capsule at the Reclamation Area.
Historian Modesto Sa-onoy said the time capsule contained a copy of C.O. 637, and a portion of the bones of Fortich once concreted.
He said Bro. Jaazael Jacosalem will put up a statue of Fortich on the site facing that of Pope John Paul II during the prelate’s birthday on August 11, this year when he is supposed to turn 100 years old.
He said City Administrator John Orola has included the Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich Avenue in the list of pilgrim sites.
Navarra expressed his appreciation and gratitude to Leonardia and members of the SP led by Sayson for approving and passing the ordinance.
Leonardia said Fortich was very close to their family and was the one who baptized him, administered his confirmation, and officiated at his wedding.
He was a man of peace and the bishop of the poor, he said.
Because of the Dacongcogon project that he pioneered, Fortich was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Rural Development in 1973, and in 1974, was one of the first awardees of the Ang Banwahanon Award for public service, the highest award given by the city to a Bacolodnon whose life or service has made a considerable impact on the people and community.
Also present at the rites were Councilors Em Ang, Roberto Rojas, El Cid Familiaran, Mona Dia Jardin, Sonya Verdeflor and Catalino Alisbo, Fr. Felix Pasquin and other members of the Diocese.*CGS