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Civil Society hails ACDO leadership transition

Civil society organizations and other people’s organizations closely working with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro welcomed the ACDO’s recent transition of leadership with a simple fellowship dinner at the Bishop’s House.

The event was preceded by a Holy Mass at the St Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral graced by recently installed Archbishop Jose Araneta Cabantan, D.D. and his predecessor Most Rev. Antonio Javellana Ledesma, S.J., D.D. who was celebrating the 24th Anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination.

“We pay tribute to our mentor, guiding light, and source of inspiration, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma,” said Balay Mindanaw Chairman Emeritus Charlito Manlupig. “We have been truly blessed by his uplifting accompaniment.”

“To Bishop Tony, we do not say goodbye. Instead, we say welcome home to the NGO community. With you around, we look forward to more strategic, dynamic, spirited and passionate initiatives toward equity, development and peace,” he added.

Archbishop Ledesma was born March 28, 1943 in Iloilo City where he attended elementary years at St. Aloysius School and later to the Ateneo de Manila until he finished his degree in History and Government, graduating magna cum laude in 1963.

He studied Philosophy (1966-1968)  and Theology (1970-1973)  at the Loyola House of Studies, and later attained his master’s degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the United States, completing his doctorate in Development in 1980.

On May 30, 1963, Bishop Ledesma entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained priest on April 16, 1973.

He served as an assistant parish priest in Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay from 1980 to 1981. Afterwards, he worked as a professor and was assigned to various positions in Xavier University where he taught Sociology, Economics, and Religious studies from 1982-1996.

On June 13, 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed him as as Coadjutor Prelate of Ipil on June 13, 1996, later succeeding Federico O. Escaler as the Prelate of Ipil on June 28, 1997.

During this period, he was also active as chairman of various civil society organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs), a trait which would mark his later episcopacy as archbishop.

On March 4, 2006, he was appointed Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro  by Pope Benedict XVI . In the interim, he led the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines as Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue since 2009, in which capacity he convened local religious leaders in inter-religious dialogues on different social issues.

In the aftermath of the deadly Tropical Storm Sendong flashflood of December 16-17, 2011, he stepped up to lead the multi-sectoral relief effort to address the needs of the flood victims.

Bishop Tony also supported efforts to resolve Mindanao’s protracted struggle with Muslim separatists and was an outspoken advocate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

On June 23, 2020, Pope Francis accepted his resignation as Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro and he was succeeded by then-Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan.

During the mass, Cagayan de Oro City Administrator Teodoro Sabuga-a Jr. talked about Archbishop Ledesma’s leadership in engaging the archdiocese with the local government under Mayor Oscar Moreno.

“Imagine the church championing the service to the poor and the needy nagsalig lang sa volunteers for  personnel and logistics. Dako nako nga learning kining spirit of voluntarism as the real mode in public service,” Sabuga-a stressed.

“Mao ning dako nga challenge sa Government kay nagkolekta ta sa taxes and we need to deliver that back in form of services to the people yet still the church is closer to the people. Kita sa Government we have to bring Government closer to the people pa. Busa maayo mapakusog ang partnership sa church ug local Government after all we share the same people to be served. Hulaman nako maka inspired nga words ni Bishop Ledesma pulong nga  STEWARDSHIP, kitang tanan busa dili nato abusohan ang tinubdan sa kinabuhi angay kini nato panggaon ug amomahon ang KINAIYAHAN para himsog nga kapuy-an sa sunod nga henerasyon.”

Sabuga-a gifted both archbishops with a prancing horse figurine made by drug rehab patients courtesy of the local government and explained the symbolism behind the tokens.

“Initiative to nila Rhyzelle in-charge nato sa anti-drug campaign naa baya sulod sa archdiocese ang center nabutang. Only in the Philippines kini nga partnership between sa church ug local government ‘cause we believe that there is life after rehab thanks to Bishop Tony for this.”

“I still can recall 2 months pag assume ni Mayor Moreno as city mayor gi invite mi ni Bishop Tony sa iyang sala. To our surprise naa didto iyang mga volunteers ministry heads.”

“Iyang tuyo nga ma forge ang partnership busa nag workshop mi with Myrna (Siose) and Bishop Tony, iyang nga ministry ug mga division heads sa City Social Welfare Dept. kay gusto ni Mayor Oca nga naay system of referrals. For every ministry ug CSWD ug unsa nga services sa church dapat naa sab ang city. Usa ana atong migrants worker program sa CSWD gidugang nato then all special bodies sa city naa jud interfaith group as member.”

In addition to delivering their tributes to Archbishop Ledesma, the civic leaders attending the mass also welcomed the new archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.

“To Archbishop Joe, we say welcome home to your flock. We hope to nurture, sustain and even take to new heights the meaningful inter-religious dialogue, promotion and protection of human
rights and the various peace building initiatives with the new Archbishop’s wisdom, guidance and support,” said Balay Mindanao Chairman Emeritus Charlito Manlupig.

Bishop José Araneta Cabantan was born in Lagonglong, on June 19, 1957. He completed his secondary education at Saint John the Baptist High School in Lagonglong. He subsequently received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Cebu Institute of Technology in Cebu City, his Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from St. John Vianney Theological seminary in Cagayan de Oro, and his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Loyola School of Theology in Manila.

He was ordained a priest on April 30, 1990 in Lagonglong for the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

After a year as associate pastor at the Cathedral, he was, from 1991 to 1995, Administrator of the San Roque parish of Catarman, Camiguin. From 1995 to 1997 he was Dean of Studies at the San Jose de Mindanao Seminary in Cagayan de Oro. After three years of study at the Loyola School of Theology and one year as Director of the San Jose Seminary in Quezon City, he was, from 2000 to 2007, formator at the St.John Vianney Theological Seminary in Cagayan de Oro. From 2007 to 2010 he was pastor of the Medalla Milagrosa parish in Cagayan de Oro.

He was elected Bishop of Malaybalay on February 18, 2010, and was consecrated the following April 30.

Within the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, Bishop Cabantan serves as President of the Episcopal Commission for Basic Communities.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Jose A. Cabantan to head the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines on June 23, 2020, and he was subsequently installed on August 28, 2020 at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral  by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo,  Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Cotabato. (RMB)

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