Archbishop Julius Tonel was formally installed as the new shepherd of the southern Archdiocese of Zamboanga on Tuesday and pledged to assist in promoting a just social order.
Tonel celebrated Mass before thousands of people at the Zamboanga Cathedral as he officially took possession of the church in his capacity as the archbishop of the historic city.
The former bishop of Ipil for 16 years has indicated that he intends to embrace his new ministry as well as lead around 700,000 Catholics in the area.
In his message after the Mass, he assured collaboration with civil authorities, along with the clergy and laypeople, in the promotion of the common good.
“The challenge for all of us is to bridge the gap between the secular culture of our times and that of the Gospel. But we never tire in promoting a just social order participating in activities to offer our Christian response to the secularized world,” Tonel said.
“Let us establish fraternal communities irrespective of age, gender, race, and religious beliefs. All of us are in this together to build the brotherhood of humanity,” he said.
As part of the installation rite presided over by Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila, the sacred pallium, an ecclesiastical vestment worn by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops, was imposed on Tonel.
Pope Francis appointed Tonel, who will turn 67 on August 31, to his new post on April 25, succeeding the late Archbishop Romulo Dela Cruz.
He received the pallium from the Pontiff at the Vatican’s Basilica of St. Peter during this year’s Mass on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29.
In his homily, Advincula asked Tonel to continue promoting a culture of encounter and dialogue with the poor, the youth, and people of other religions.
“But the starting point is the encounter with Jesus. It is the encounter that will set things right and this can be accomplished with the strong integral faith formation known as catechesis,” he said.
“Let this be your priority for catechesis in what is known as the laboratory of dialogue,” the cardinal added.
Also at the ceremony were Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop emeritus of Cotabato, eight archbishops, 28 bishops, and around 200 priests from different dioceses and religious congregations.