Archbishop Victor Bendico celebrated his first Mass on Wednesday, May 3, as the new shepherd of Capiz at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, where his predecessor, Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, told him, “Welcome back, welcome home!”
It was indeed a homecoming for Bishop Bendico, who was installed as the fourth archbishop of Capiz and leader of an archdiocese of around 820,000 Catholics in at least 67 parishes and mission stations.
At the start of the Mass, a priest read Pope Francis’ mandate appointing Bishop Bendico as archbishop of his native archdiocese.
Afterwards, papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown presented Bishop Bendico with crosier and escorted him to his cathedra — the symbols of his authority. The faithful who packed the cathedral applauded as he officially assumed his post.
In his homily, Bishop Bendico expressed his eagerness to work and journey with the people “and all of you who make our local Church alive and growing.”
“We will walk together in the local Church of Capiz with our parishes, mission stations, Basic Ecclessial Communities, the religious, church organizations and ministries,” Bishop Bendico said.
“With our trust in God and our humble efforts, we will strive that no one will be left behind, no one will feel alone, and no one will be forgotten in our communities,” he assured.
Prior to his new assignment, the 63-year-old served for six years in the Diocese of Baguio, which is now “sede vacante” until a new bishop is appointed and installed.
Bishop Bendico’s canonical installation came two months after Pope Francis appointed him to Capiz, which has been without an archbishop for nearly two years.
During that period, the archdiocese was overseen by Monsignor Cyril Villareal as administrator.
In his message, Cardinal Advincula described Bishop Bendico’s appointment as “God’s gift” to the archdiocese.
“God gave us not only an archbishop but someone who is our own, someone who knows us, and someone we know,” the cardinal said.
“Trust that God has reasons why he called you here. And trust that God will also give you all the graces you need as you faithfully do his will,” he said.
Also present during the Mass were more than 20 bishops from different dioceses including Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop emeritus of Cotabato.