Porlares as OM, Ranojo as Gen Sec
May 7-10, 2023

By: The Rev. Victoria S. Esguerra (DGMA)
and Mr. Roel Diocampo Orillo (C.O. recorder/informant)

More pictures from Obispado Maximo FB Page

Elected to the highest offices of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) were the Rt. Rev. Joel O. Porlares, former General Secretary, as the 14th Obispo Maximo, and the Rt. Rev. Dindo D. Ranojo, former diocesan bishop of Tarlac, as General Secretary, in the recently concluded 15th General Assembly held at the Mella Hotel in Las Pinas City on May 7-10, 2023, with opening services at the National Cathedral on Taft Avenue.

Bishop Porlares won over the lone opponent candidate, the Rt. Rev. Felixberto L. Calang (Cagayan de Oro), for the office of the Supreme Bishop (Chief Pastor and Chief Executive Officer); while Bishop Ranojo edged out the Rt. Rev. Carlo A. Morales (Ozamis) for the position of General Secretary (Chief Operations Officer). Only one ballot-casting, individually done for each position, was sufficient to determine the outcome winners for both offices.

With this 15th General Assembly, the incumbent national officers, the Most Rev. Rhee M. Timbang, 13th Obispo Maximo, and the Rt. Rev. Joel O. Porlares, General Secretary, made their exit as national officers; as well as the other former elective officials. His Eminence, OM Timbang delivered his valedictory address during the General Assembly (see excerpt in separate article) at the Mella Hotel. The Synod drew some 283 delegates composed of clergy and laity from 49 dioceses both here and abroad who elected the incoming national officers for the next six-year term. Also present who graced the occasion was the Hon. Cesar E.A. Virata, former Prime Minister and head of the IFI Pension Fund, who encouraged the Body to support the pension fund of the clergy.

With the theme, "Witnessing faithfully to God's love in Christ in every place and time in the power of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:8), the Synod official delegates came from 49 dioceses with the clergy delegation of bishops and priests, and the laity from the national sectoral officers and elected diocesan representatives. They gathered on the first day, Sunday, May 7, 2023, at the National Cathedral for the opening ceremony which commenced with the Holy Eucharist beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Led by the incumbent 13th Obispo Maximo, the Most Rev. Rhee Millena Timbang as main celebrant and preacher, the concelebrants were the selected staff of the Obispado Maximo and the National Cathedral office, including the Very Rev. Julius Caesar Barrameda (Cathedral Dean), the Revs. Ramil Aguilar (National Program Coordinator), Aileen Patacsil-Aguilar (Cathedral Canon), and Herbert Fadriquela (IFI-UK Mission Chaplain). The Rev. Deacon Wowa Ledama served as the assistant minister.

In his homily during the Holy Mass, the Supreme Bishop Timbang exhorted the delegation and congregation present "to honor the National Church as the home of the IFI, in the same way that God's Kingdom, being prepared for us by Jesus, is our eternal home." He alluded to the reality that life on earth was a mere journey, not a destination; and that "we are only pilgrims on earth with Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, as also being the Way, the Truth, and the Life." According to him, in the present context the IFI as a pilgrim community "is a witness in God's love in Christ, and the faithful are enjoined to promote peace, justice, and reconciliation. (Micah 6:8)". "Christ's way is the IFI's way; Christ's witness is also the IFI's witness," he concluded.

Subsequent to the Holy Eucharist and a brief break, the incumbent Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang called the Assembly to order at 11:40 a.m. The Rt. Rev. Emelyn Gasco-Dacuycuy, diocesan bishop of Batac, gave the opening prayer. Upon the roll call of the dioceses and the report of the Credentials Committee, revealing a total of 275 delegates at that time, the quorum was established. The regional representation then was: North Central Luzon - 70; South Central Luzon - 53; Visayas - 60; Mindanao -- 77; and Overseas - 9; summing to 269 official delegates (plus 6 ExeCom members, thus 275 total) as of the first day of the General Assembly. However, by election time during the final stage of the Assembly, the tally of qualified voter-delegates totaled 283.

The Rt. Rev. Vicente Salavador R. Ballesteros (DGMA) was appointed chair of the Nominations Committee of the General Assembly. He also led the diocesan delegation composed of The Rt. Rev. Warlito Baldomero; Msgr. Cesar Emmanuel R. Ballesteros, domestic prelate and vicar; The Rev. Nixon T. Jose, priest; Mr. Fructuoso Sabug, Jr., LIFI; Ms. Rosanna Madrilejo, WOPIC; and Ms. Kirsten Nadem M. Cabillas, YIFI. (The delegation members were earlier selected in the Diocesan Convention held at the Parish of the Resurrection in Balingasa in February 2023.)

The incumbent General Secretary, Bishop Joel O. Porlares, reported and presented the diocesan delegations present during the first day of the Assembly at the National Cathedral. Then the oath of office was collectively administered to all delegates; followed by their signing of their individual certificates of Oath of Office. After the Proposed Agenda was moved in a motion to be accepted, the orientation and instructions on the travel route were given by Mr. Jerry Navarrete (Cavite Diocese), General Assembly Manager. Simultaneously as the lunch food packs were being distributed, the delegates embarked on boarding the buses enroute to their destination to the GA venue at the Mella Hotel in Las Pinas City.

The newly-elected Obispo Maximo, The Rt. Rev. Joel O. Porlares, was also the diocesan bishop of Bataan and Bulacan prior to his assignment as General Secretary of the National Church. Before his episcopal election, he also served as the parish priest of the Parishes of the Holy Child in Pandacan and the Holy Trinity of Pasay under the Diocese of Greater Manila Area. A graduate and later Canon Law professor of St. Andrew's Theological Seminary (SATS), he is married to Rowena and they have three grown-up sons. Meanwhile, The Rt. Rev. Dindo D. Ranojo, former diocesan bishop of Tarlac, is a graduate of Aglipay Central Theological Seminary (ACTS). He is married to Gina Capindian of Santo Domingo, Nueva Ecija.

The General Assembly also elected the new General Treasurer, Ms. Elena Ching del Mundo of Santa Cruz, Laguna, and the new General Auditor, Mrs. Adela del Mundo of Paoay, Ilocos Norte. They will replace, Mr. Saturnino C. Garvida and Mr. Reynaldo R. Evangelista, respectively. The members of the Executive Commission (ExeCom), governing body on secular affairs of the Church in-between the GA sessions, were chosen based on the election results of their respective clergy and lay representations (see separate article).

Elected to the seven-member team of the Commission on Business and Finance (CBF) were the following: Mr. Jerry Navarrete (Cavite), The Rt. Rev. Vicente Salvador Ballesteros (DGMA), The Rt. Rev. Felixberto Calang (CDO), the Very Rev. Eleuterio Revollido (ACTS dean), Ms. Pearl Harder, Ms. Leahlyn Fodra, and Mr. Romulo de Guia.

The GA roster of participants in the Holy Eucharistic services included the following: May 8, 2023 (Monday) - Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang (main celebrant), Bp. Rex Reyes (ECP, preacher); May 9, 2023 (Tuesday) - Bp. Alger D. Loyao (Cebu, main celebrant), Bp. Gerry F. Engnan (WUSACA, assisting), Bp. Romeo G. Tagud (Bohol, preacher); May 10, 2023 (Wednesday) - Bp. Vermilion C. Tagalog (Laoag, main celebrant), Bp. Geomary Neri (Koronadal, assisting), Bp. Rowel S. Arevalo (Laguna, preacher); and Closing Worship - Bp. Vicente Salvador R. Ballesteros (DGMA, officiant), Bp. Joselito T. Cruz (Bataan-Bulacan, preacher).

Immediately after the Closing Worship, the 15th General Assembly was adjourned at 10:53 a.m. It is scheduled to reconvene on May 6 - 9, 2026 in Iloilo City.



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