Butuan welcomes new shepherd as Bishop Almedilla is ordained, installed
Bishop Cosme Damian Almedilla waves to the crowd after his episcopal ordination and installation as the new bishop of Butuan at the St. Joseph Cathedral June 25. PHOTO COURTESY OF NICOL DULTRA
Newly ordained and installed Bishop Cosme Damian Almedilla celebrated his first Mass in Butuan Tuesday announcing himself as both a father and servant in the diocese.
The around two-hour service at St. Joseph Cathedral was the first and among the celebrations to get Almedilla acquainted with his new flock.
More than 3,000 gathered at the cathedral to meet the man who will serve as the third bishop of the diocese in the southern region of Mindanao.
“I come to you not as a bishop but more as a father who cares, a servant who is willing to work with you all,” Almedilla said.
The 59-year-old prelate admitted he was afraid of his new task, adding that never in his wildest dream that he would become a bishop.
He said that his whole desire was just to be an ordinary member of the presbyterate and to serve the people.
Bishop Almedilla has chosen for his episcopal motto a phrase from the Gospel of St. John: “Pasce oves Meas” (Tend my sheep).
“I did chose to listen and obey His call for greater task and service and that is to take care or His sheep here in the diocese of Butuan,” he said.
The service was streamed on the internet with schools and parishes throughout the diocese able to watch online.
The principal consecrator was Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de oro. Co-consecrators were Bishops Jose Cabantan of Malaybalay and Daniel Parcon of Talibon.
Papal nuncio Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, 21 bishops and more than 100 priests and the religious also attended the event.
In his homily, Cardinal Tagle reminded the new bishop that “there’s only one brand of shepherding that you can give to Jesus’ flock”.
“Jesus said ‘follow me’. But how can you follow Him if you forget that you are also a sheep, you are part of the flock,” Tagle said.
“And as a sheep, learning the shepherding love of Jesus then follow Him, give the flock the caring, the tending that Jesus gives to to you,” he added.
Pope Francis appointed Almedilla to head the Butuan diocese on March 25, taking the post that was vacated by Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos who died in October 2017.
Born in San Miguel, in Bohol, Almedilla was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Talibon in 1987.
He used to be spiritual director at the John XXII College Seminary and director of the Holy Child Academy in Bohol, and chaplain at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City.
Since 2015 until his appointment as bishop, Almedilla, who is known for promoting the Basic Ecclesial Community movement, has been assistant pastoral director of the Talibon diocese.