Oriental Mindoro’s new bishop assumes post

September 8, 2023 - 11:11 AM
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ishop Moises Cuevas was installed as chief shepherd of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan during Mass at the Sto. Niño Cathedral in Calapan City on Sept. 6, 2023. (Reuters/Roy Lagarde)

The nation’s youngest active bishop has been installed as the fourth apostolic vicar of Calapan.

Bishop Moises Cuevas, 49, was welcomed at the door of the Sto. Niño Cathedral in the city of Calapan before the two-hour installation Mass.

Prior to the start of the liturgy, he ritually knocked on the door of the cathedral three times. Archbishop Gilbert Garcera of Lipa opened the door, received him into the cathedral, and offered a crucifix for him to kiss.

Cuevas then blessed himself with holy water and sprinkled it on those around him.

This moment symbolized the official arrival of Cuevas as the new head shepherd of the Church in the island province of Oriental Mindoro.

He will lead over 750,000 Catholics scattered across 40 pastoral areas in the vicariate.”

The vicariate is also home to several indigenous Mangyan tribes, each with their own language, culture and traditions.

In his first homily as the Calapan bishop, he discussed the complementarity of the relationship between priests and the laity and the importance of both assuming their ‘co-responsibility’ in the task of evangelization.

The bishop also vowed to create a more inclusive church while staying true to its teachings.

“Everything belongs, everything is for the Lord, everyone is involved, everywhere is for the mission. This is our synodal Church, the Church walking together,” Cuevas said.

“If the Church takes up this missionary impulse, she has to go forth to everyone without exception to the poor and the sick, those who are usually despised and overlooked,” he said.

The cathedral was at full capacity, with around a thousand people in attendance to witness the event, including around 30 bishops from across the country.

At the start of the Mass, an apostolic letter announcing Cuevas’ appointment was read by Fr. Nestor Adalia, until then the apostolic administrator of Calapan.

After Cuevas affirmed his acceptance of his appointment, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown led him to the cathedra, where he settled and received a crosier.

Cuevas was born in Cuenca town in Batangas province in 1973 and moved to the city of Zamboanga during his college years.

After completing his priestly studies, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Zamboanga in 2000 at the age of 27.

Approximately 19 years later, while serving as the rector of the Zamboanga Cathedral, he was elevated to the position of auxiliary bishop in his archdiocese.

He was serving as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator when Pope Francis confirmed that he would leave his former role as an auxiliary bishop to lead the faithful of Calapan.

Cuevas succeeds 79-year-old Bishop Warlito Cajandig, whom the Pope had freed from his episcopal ministry for health reasons in 2022.

Since November 2018, Calapan had been overseen by Adalia after Cajandig suffered a stroke.