DUMAGUETE CITY, Dec. 4 (PNA) -– Thousands of the faithful of the Diocese of Dumaguete on Wednesday received with joy the new bishop of the Diocese of Dumaguete, the Most Rev. Julito B. Cortes, a day ahead of his canonical installation and liturgical reception at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in this capital city.
Msgr. Cortes and his entourage comprising priests, relatives and parishioners from Cebu arrived at the port in nearby Sibulan town around 11 a.m. Wednesday where he was received by members of the clergy, the religious and lay faithful.
Bishop Cortes is the fourth prelate of the Diocese of Dumaguete and was the Cebu Auxiliary Bishop prior to his latest appointment by Pope Francis which was announced last September.
As the convoy motored to Dumaguete City from Sibulan, students and other individuals lined the streets, carrying streamers and waving flaglets as Bishop Cortes proceeded to the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, where thousands were waiting for his arrival.
On hand to receive him were diocesan administrator Msgr. Gamaliel Tulabing, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma (who also heads the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines), other prelates, priests and religious and the lay faithful.
Bishop Cortes then led the praying of the Angelus before paying homage to the international pilgrim image of the Our Lady of Fatima of Portugal.
During his first official address to the people as the fourth bishop of Dumaguete, Msgr. Cortes expressed thanks and delight for being back in the diocese after being away for 12 years.
He said his heart is filled with joy for the warm welcome of the people for being back in his home diocese.
Cortes, while born in Parañaque, originally hails from the nearby island-province of Siquijor, where his parents now reside, and is not new to the Dumaguete diocese.
He studied at the St. Joseph Seminary high school here before taking up A.B. Philosophy at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos in Cebu and later finished his Bachelor in Sacred Theology at the University of Sto. Tomas.
After being ordained to the priesthood on October 24, 1980, he served in several capacities and assignments at the Diocese of Dumaguete before he was transferred to the Archdiocese of Cebu.
While acknowledging that he is happy to be “back home”, Msgr. Cortes described being the next Dumaguete bishop as “not a walk in the park”.
It is not an easy job, it will have its own challenges, but a priest-friend has assured that “we will walk with you”.
“We are not alone. We are strengthened by the presence and the help of each other and for each other. And that gives me so much courage and hope”, said Bishop Cortes.
The prelate also pointed out that twice in a row, just before his appointment as bishop, the image of the Our Lady of Fatima always precedes his arrival.
He was referring to both his assignment as Cebu Auxiliary Bishop and now as Dumaguete Bishop where the Our Lady of Fatima is present.
On Thursday morning, at least 49 archbishops and bishops and about 300 local and visiting clergy will be attending the canonical installation and liturgical reception of Bishop Cortes.
Manila Archbishop Luis Tagle, Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Msgr. Giuseppe Pinto, former Dumaguete prelates Archbishop Angel Lagdameo and Archbishop John Du, and many others are attending the activity.
The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, representing the Pope, arrived and was received with military honors at the Dumaguete airport Wednesday afternoon.
On hand to receive him were Bishop Cortes, Archbishop Palma, Dumaguete Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria and Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Negros Oriental.
A testimonial dinner has been set Wednesday evening in honor of Bishop Cortes with Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, Siquijor Gov. Villa, local officials and dignitaries in attendance. (PNA)