FINAL REST. Diocesan priests of Marbel carry the coffin of Bishop Emeritus Dinulado Gutierrez to his final resting place at the back of Christ the King Cathedral in Koronadal City on Wednesday (Feb. 20). (Photo courtesy of Faye Mempin – Diocese of Marbel office)
KORONADAL CITY -- The Catholic Church on Wednesday laid to rest on his birthday the longest staying diocesan bishop in the Philippines, who died of lingering illness.
Bishop Emeritus Dinualdo Gutierrez of Diocese of Marbel (old name of Koronadal City) served the diocese or the past 38 years. He retired in 2018.
The outspoken bishop, who led in opposing mining activities in South Cotabato, was laid to his final resting place at the back of Christ the King Cathedral after a funeral mass with Archbishop Angelito Lampon, OMI, DD of the archdiocese of Cotabato as the main celebrant.
Gutierrez retired in 2015 upon reaching the age of 75 but his resignation was only accepted by Pope Francis last year.
The bishop died of lingering illness caused by prostate cancer at the age of 79 around 5 a.m. last Feb. 10 at the General Santos Doctors’ Hospital in General Santos City.
Fr. Romy Buenaobra, Marbel diocesan vicar general, delivered the homily for the deceased prelate filled with emotions.
Buenaobra said the late bishop was elated after learning that his request for retirement had been granted in March last year.
“He said to me at dinner ‘Now I can breathe a sigh of relief and relax’,” Buenaobra recalled Gutierrez as saying.
Gutierrez was named auxiliary bishop of Marbel 38 years ago with the right of succession at the age of 42, the youngest bishop at that time.
When his retirement was announced, Gutierrez realized he was the longest-staying diocesan bishop who served the Marbel diocese without being transferred or replaced until he retired.
Gutierrez was installed bishop of Marbel on Nov. 19, 1981. He was 42.
He named Buenaobra, then 44 years old, as his diocesan vicar general.
At the bishop’s funeral, Buenaobra said he was impressed by the influx of flowers, expression of sympathy and love for the late bishop in the past 10 days prior to his burial from people from all walks of life and from people that he touched.
“It seems that the whole diocese was here,” he said.
Buenaobra said the late bishop repeatedly assumed after his resignation was officially accepted by the Vatican, that he can now rest. “However, he did not because he continued his various ministries until he was rushed to the hospital in a critical situation.”
Buenaobra ended his homily by telling Gutierrez: “May you rest in peace with the Lord, bishop, you are now where we ought to be.”