The new archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao urged the faithful “to confront the unseen enemy” with “hope and care for one another.”
In his message during his installation on Friday, August 28, Archbishop Jose Cabantan said his appointment during a health crisis “calls us to rise as one, to survive as one, to live in solidarity, to strengthen our communion with one another and with God above all.”
“This pandemic allows us to shape once again the kind of Church we should be,” said the 63-year old former prelate of Malaybalay, also in Mindanao.
The prelate said the by calling the Church a “field hospital,” Pope Francis called for a radical rethinking of the life of the Church.
“Like the field hospitals which are built to be able to treat more of our infected brothers and sisters, the Church then should not just stay at the center of the parish but to be in the field,” said Archbishop Cabantan.
“This the Church in the midst of people, a Church that goes forth, a Church always in mission,” he said, adding that “to infect our brothers and sisters with love and mercy of God is our common mission.”
Outgoing Archbishop Antonio Ledesma expressed optimism that his successor will sustain the initiatives he has implemented in the archdiocese.
“I am hopeful that he will continue what I have started and I trust that he will do it because he has been working with me even before he became a bishop,” said the retired prelate.
Archbishop Ledesma said it will not be hard for the new prelate to assume the new assignment because he has contributed to the archdiocese’s social action programs in the past.
“After 10 years as the bishop of Malaybalay, I am confident that he is now more experienced when he comes back here,” said Archbishop Ledesma.
During a media briefing on Thursday, August 27, Bishop Cabantan assured that he will continue all the programs of his predecessor, especially on environmental protection and the peace process.
“There is already a system in place. If there is something that needs to be modified, we will modify,” he said.
Archbishop Ledesma said that after the transition period he will spend his time teaching at the local seminary and doing some research for the archdiocese.
“Retiring does not really mean moving out, but a moment of recycling,” he said.
Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Cabantan on June 23 to lead the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, which has a population of more than a million Catholics in 62 parishes.
He replaced Archbishop Antonio Ledesma who served the archdiocese for 14 years until his retirement this year.
A chemical engineering graduate, the prelate was ordained priest on April 30, 1990.
He earned his master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, and his licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Loyola School of Theology in Manila.
He served the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro in various capacities until his appointment as vicar general of the archdiocese from 2007 to 2010.