Laguna’s first Vicar General dies

SAN PABLO City, April 20, 2010– Laguna’s first Vicar General for 28 years has died of natural causes early morning on April 16 at Calamba City Hospital. He was 89.

Msgr. Elias Olarte Poblete, Laguna’s first seminary rector, formator/professor for 41 years and one time professor and administrator in an American diocese, was a Doctor of Canon Law graduate at the Catholic University of America and Master of Arts in Education from Fordham University in New York City.

Poblete’s remains lay in state initially at the St. John the Baptist Parish Rectory in Calamba City where he had served as parish priest for about 15 years. His body was later transferred to the San Pablo Cathedral on April 19, where a Concelebrated Requiem Mass presided by San Pablo Bishop Leo M. Drona was offered. Concelebrating with the bishop were former San Pablo Cleric and now Manila Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino
Cortez and the priests and religious of San Pablo.

After the Mass the remains of Poblete was transferred to St. Peter’s College Seminary for vigil and tribute in his honor. Poblete served as the seminary’s first rector and formator.

On April 22, his body will be brought to his hometown in Mabitac for final vigil before interment.

Ordained a priest just after the 2nd World War on March 16, 1946, Poblete at an early age became a priest of many positions and responsibilities. He was a holder of many “Firsts” in the Diocese of San Pablo, namely: the first to have received the highest dignity “The Right Reverend Monsignor” ever yet attained by a Laguna-born Catholic priest; the first Vicar General of the Diocese of San Pablo since 1967; first rector of the Major Seminary of Laguna; and the first to receive the highest Papal Award and Title “Protonotary Apostolic Supernumerary.”

Most of the 126 diocesan priests presently serving the San Pablo Diocese have been trained by the late Monsignor either as a rector of the seminary or a formator, according to Fr. Rene Eriga, the Diocesan Social Action Director of Laguna.

Among others, as a Canon Lawyer he became Professor at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Lipa City and Bauan, Batangas; Pro-Synodal Examiner in the Diocese of Lipa and Defender of the Bond of the same Diocese in 1950 to 1954; Vicar General of the Diocese of Lipa, 1966-67 (when San Pablo was still part of Lipa Archdiocese); Vicar General of San Pablo Diocese, 1967-1995 when San Pablo became a diocese.

In the United States, shortly after he finished his Canon Law Doctorate and Masters in Educational Management and Supervision degrees, he held various positions like Diocesan Superior, Administrator, Co-Adjutor, Vice Chancellor, Instructor, Professor, Hospital Chaplain and other works which largely enhanced his qualities of leadership and sharpened his management, supervisory and administrative skills. (Fr. Romulo O. Ponte)