High hopes expressed with appointment of new Dumaguete bishop

October 1, 2013 10:25 am 

DUMAGUETE CITY, Sept. 30 -– Key leaders of the Catholic Church in Dumaguete have expressed optimism of a brighter and stronger direction of the local diocese following the recent appointment of Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Julito Cortes as the next prelate of the Diocese of Dumaguete.

City Administrator William Ablong, who is also the president of the Parish Pastoral Council of Dumaguete, on Monday said they are thankful that after a long wait, the Diocese of Dumaguete now has a new bishop.

Pope Francis has appointed the Most Rev. Julito Cortes as the 4th prelate of Dumaguete, with the announcement from the Vatican made public Saturday.

Ablong expressed optimism that with the experiences of Bishop Cortes, who served in various capacities in the Diocese of Dumaguete prior to his assignment in Cebu, can perk up the spiritual life of the people here, especially Catholics.

Bishop Cortes is orderly, systemized, and very good in planning and decision making, Ablong said.

“I am sure the priests will be happy with this development”, he said. For about a year and four months, the diocese has been without a bishop and priests in the diocese have held their positions in parishes and other assignments for almost eight years already.

The announcement of Bishop Cortes’ appointment is timely during the celebration of Laity Week this week, said the PPC president.

With a new bishop, Ablong is certain that the Diocesan Council for the Laity, the Diocesan Organization of Renewal Movements and Communities (DORMC) and the Parish Pastoral Council will be strengthened.

These Church-based groups were affected by the absence of a bishop and had slowed down in their movement in that past year or so, he added.

The spiritual direction of these groups is mainly dependent on the key officials of the clergy, more particularly, the bishop, according to Ablong.

Meanwhile, Fr. Enrique Thaddeu Balongag, president of the diocesan-owned Colegio de Sta. Catalina de Alejandria (COSCA) and academic dean of the St. Joseph Seminary College, also said he believes in the competency and skills of Bishop Cortes which meet the requirements of the Diocese of Dumaguete and its people.

“It’s worth the long wait. Hopefully we can be able to pastorally move forward,” said Fr. Balongag.

The diocese may be able to make up for what it lost for a long time without a bishop, and to do what it is supposed to do within the sphere of its jurisdiction as a local church, he added.

“My only prayer is that when he comes to finally lead all of us, the clergy will be once again united and will all work together as one collegial body for the welfare of the people and the entire diocese”, the priest said.

For his part, Msgr. Glen Corsiga, Rector of the St. Joseph Seminary College, expressed gratitude for the appointment of Bishop Cortes, which he describes as a “coming home for him”.

Bishop Cortes, 57, and who hails from Siquijor, has served as rector of the St. Joseph Seminary College for 10 years aside from having held other positions in the Diocese of Dumaguete.

“The seminary is glad and proud that he is coming back and I wish him good health, good luck and good management especially as a bishop”, Msgr. Corsiga said.

Msgr. Corsiga has appreciated the efforts of Bishop Cortes even when he was still administrator of the Diocese of Dumaguete and “as bishop I believe he can do better this time”.

In a related development, Bishop Cortes, in a text message to the Philippines News Agency, said “the date of his installation will be finalized when the Nunciature gives a go signal after consultation with key people”.

“I feel overwhelmed at the task. But I am grateful for the trust of the Holy Father for this assignment. It is by God’s compassion and mercy that I am back as Bishop of Dumaguete”, Cortes added.

Bishop Cortes is still in New Jersey, U.S.A. and will be returning to the Philippines on October 2. (PNA)

LAP/JFP

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