GERMAN President Johannes Rau conferred Germany’s highest award on the University’s longest teaching non-Dominican priest last Jan. 25 at the UST Graduate School (UST-GS).

Fr. Hermogenes Bacareza, SVD received the Grobes Bundesverdienstkreuz or the Insignia of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, for his “extraordinary value in fostering friendly relations between the Philippines and Germany.”

“At least my service for Germany and the Philippines was appreciated. However, it is not for me, its all for God,” Fr. Bacareza said.

The award was given through Germany’s Ambas-sador to the Philippines Herbert Jess.

Meanwhile, Auxilliary Bishop of Manila, Bishop Socrates Villegas also congratulated Fr. Bacareza.

“May you continue to respond to God’s invitation to follow Him by imitating our Lord’s example of humility and holiness,” Bishop Villegas said.

In addition, Cardinal Gilberto Agustoni, prefect of the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, wrote a commendatory letter.

“I am very happy that your services for the Filipino and the German people, in particular, and to the Catholic Church, in general, at home and abroad are officially recognized. You highly deserve it,” Cardinal Agustoni said.

Fr. Bacareza has been teaching the German language in the UST-GS and in the Conservatory of Music for over 42 years.

Among the few Filipinos who have received the prestigious award are United Nations General Assembly president Carlos Romulo, former President Diosdado Macapagal, and former finance and executive secretary Alejandro Melchor.

The special award is equivalent to the Philippines’ Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of datu, which has been granted to some German ambassadors during the past decade. Ma. Cristina S. Lavapie

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