Filipino Roman Catholic prelate, Jesus Varela, Died at 90

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Jesus Y. Varela was born on December 18, 1927 and died on February 23, 2018.

He was a Filipino prelate of the Catholic Church.

Varela became the Bishop Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sorsogon on his retirement on April 16, 2003.

Varela was appointed bishop of Sorsogon on November 27, 1980 Prior to that Varela served as the first ever sitting Bishop of then Diocese of Ozamiz.

Varela also served as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zamboanga and titular Bishop of Tatilti.

Varela was a direct descendant of Gregorio Varela, a Spaniard who was one of Bago City’s founding fathers, and through Gregorio’s wife Josefa Araneta he is a member of the Araneta family.

He attended the Colegio Del Sagrado Corazon in Iloilo City for kindergarten, and the Iloilo Normal School for half of his elementary years.

When his father was appointed a provincial judge in Surigao, he transferred to the Surigao Elementary School. The family later moved to Sorsogon when his father was reassigned.

Varela studied at the Sorsogon National High School between 1946 and 1949, after which he studied for three years at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Minor Seminary.

Later, Varela also studied in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, earning a Ph.L. degree during 1952.

From 1958 to 1961 Varela completed coursework at the University of the Angelicum in Rome.

He was ordained on March 17, 1956 in Cebu City, where his father last served as a Provincial Judge.

Varela joined the Society of Jesus, following in the footsteps of his older brother Mariano, who was a Jesuit priest. Later on his two younger sisters and one of his cousins became nuns.

The latest in the family to join the religious service is his nephew Richard Varela of the Salesian Order.

Varela’s family was also involved in government, his nephew the late Francis Varela served as Undersecretary for Finance of the Department of Education (Philippines), and his cousin the late Jose Varela served as Congressman-at-large for Negros Occidental.

Also to his service as a bishop, Varela was involved in broadcasting. In 1972, he served as the Vice President of UNDA, a Catholic radio and television organization, and in 1974 he became its president.

Varela was also President of the Philippine Federation of Catholic Broadcasters, and used this position to criticize President Ferdinand Marcos, at a time when all media were censored or under the direct control of the government.

Varela also serves as Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, and is a member of its permanent council (to which all Filipino Roman Catholic bishops belong).

He died at 90 years old.