Bishop Ruperto Santos vowed to be a ‘servant’ to the church and to the office entrusted to him as he was installed as the new shepherd of the Diocese of Antipolo on Saturday.
In a solemn Mass, the 65-year-old bishop took possession of the Antipolo Cathedral’s chair as the fifth bishop of the diocese.
“I come to you here not as someone powerful. Here I am, like you, one with you, a partner with you in the work of the Lord,” Santos said in his first homily as Antipolo bishop.
“I come as your companion, a mere servant to all of you,” he said.
The ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. with a civic reception for the new bishop by city and provincial officials outside the church.
When the prelate appeared at the door, he was officially greeted by his predecessor, Bishop Emeritus Francisco de Leon, and Fr. Nante Tolentino, the rector of the cathedral.
He then kissed a crucifix and was presented with holy water, which he sprinkled over the congregation as a reminder of their baptism before making his way to the altar for the service.
After the letter of appointment from Rome was read to the congregation, Santos was led to the cathedra with his crosier and took his seat for the first time.
The cathedra, or the bishop’s chair, has Santos’ coat of arms on it.
Among those present at the ceremony were more than 30 bishops, including Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, and hundreds of priests and consecrated persons.
With Santos’ canonical possession of the Antipolo diocese, the Diocese of Balanga, which he served for 13 years, is now officially in the status of “sede vacante”.
Archbishop Florentino Lavarias of San Fernando will temporarily oversee the diocese as apostolic administrator.
“We pray and ask the Lord to send His shepherd for the Diocese of Balanga soon,” said a social media post of the diocese.