The Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan welcomed its new bishop during the canonical possession ceremony held at the Bishop’s Residence in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro province on Monday.
“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 Fr. Vicente Uy, JCD, judicial vicar of Calapan and chair of the Episcopal Transition Team.
Bishop Moises Magpantay Cuevas, the fourth prelate of Calapan, arrived at the city port past 4 p.m. He was welcomed by the Mangyan indigenous group in a simple yet festive program.
As he made his way to the Bishop’s residence, students from the Divine Word College of Calapan and parishioners of St. Francis quasi-parish lined the route to offer their warm greetings.
Upon reaching the Bishop’s residence, he embarked on a solemn walk as he entered his official home.
In a symbolic gesture, the clergy escorted the prelate downstairs, where he received a warm welcome from the curia personnel with whom he will officially collaborate, along with the diocesan synodal team, comprised of lay individuals.
“As required by law, Cuevas had to recite the profession of faith or Credo (I Believe in God) very solemnly, and recited the oath of fidelity to the apostolic see,” said Uy.
Cuevas presented his appointment letter, known as a papal bull written in Latin, from Pope Francis to the College of Consultors – his most prominent advisory body.
This college comprises nine priests within the vicariate. The college verified the authenticity of the letter and endorsed it as an official document.
In his message, the new bishop expressed gratitude to everyone “for promoting a culture of encounter, which is a goal of human society,” adding, “This points out a personal friendship with God, who encounters us first.”
The 49-year-old bishop is the youngest Catholic prelate in the country. He succeeded 79-year-old Bishop Warlito Cajandig, who held the post for 33 years from 1989 to 2022.
In November 2022, the Vatican announced that the pope had “liberated” Cajandig from his office for health reasons.
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.