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Philippines: Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan bishop appointed

Bishop Moises Magpantay Cuevas was installed as the new bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, with a canonical possession ceremony held at the bishop's residence in Barangay Salong in this city, Oriental Mindoro province, Philippines ​​​​​​on September 4.

"The canonical possession is required by the Canon Law for the consecrated bishop to be able to govern the diocese entrusted to his pastoral care," said Father Vicente Uy, JCD, judicial vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan (AVC) and chair of the Episcopal Transition Team.

Bishop Cuevas deemed the fourth Apostolic Vicar of Calapan, arrived at the port of Calapan past 4 p.m.

The Mangyans welcomed him and followed with the sound of trumpets and drums in a straightforward and festive program.

On his way to the bishop’s residence in his indigenous "bishop" mobile, students from the Divine Word College of Calapan and parishioners of St. Francis quasi-parish lined up along the way and greeted him.

At the bishop’s residence, he had a solemn walk into his official home, where he was symbolically fetched by priests from the second floor. Then he went down and was welcomed by curia personnel, whom he will officially work with, and the diocesan synodal team, composed of lay people.

Youth and seminarians performed praise songs.

"As required by law, Cuevas had to recite the profession of faith, or Credo (I Believe in God) very solemnly and recite the oath of fidelity to the apostolic see," said Uy.

Cuevas then showed his appointment letter, or papal bull, written in Latin by the Pope in Rome to the College of Consultors, which is his highest consulting body and is composed of nine priests in the vicariate.

The body authenticated the letter and signed a document. Also present were diocesan priests and religious priests of the Society of the Divine Word, as well as local superiors of the nine congregations of nuns doing missions in the province.

Since Cuevas is a Marian devotee, two hymns, "The Magnificat and The Salve Regina" were sung. The ceremony ended with an homage by priests, nuns, and laity through a fraternal kiss and the kissing of the bishop’s ring.

In his speech, Cuevas thanked everyone and appreciated the ceremony "for promoting a culture of encounter, which is a goal of human society.. this points out a personal friendship with God, who encounters us first," he said concerning Pope Francis.

Cuevas, 49, the youngest Catholic prelate in the country, succeeded 79-year-old Bishop Warlito Cajandig, who held the post from 1989 until 2022, or 33 years. 

In November 2022, the Vatican announced that the pope had "liberated" Cajandig from his office for health reasons. When Cajandig suffered a stroke in 2018 and underwent brain surgery, the pope appointed Father Nestor Adalia as apostolic administrator of the AVC. 

Born in Batangas City, Cuevas was ordained a priest for the Zamboanga Archdiocese in 2000. The pope appointed him as its auxiliary bishop in March 2020. In August 2021, Cuevas was appointed apostolic administrator ("sede plena) of the archdiocese.

Cuevas also served as the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese until the installation of its new archbishop, Julius Tonel of Ipil, as the new Zamboanga archbishop on August 22.- Madonna Virola


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