Fr. Dodong ordained bishop in emotional event

Fr. Dodong ordained bishop in emotional event
Bishop Midyphil Billones has been ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Cebu at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral in Iloilo City Aug. 27. VINCENT VALENCIA

By Roy Lagarde

August 27, 2019

Manila, Philippines

In a ceremony filled with tears and applause, a 50-year-old priest was ordained a bishop at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral on Tuesday.

Bishop Midyphil “Dodong” Billones said Tuesday was an overwhelming, emotional day, but he looks forward to his new role with the Church.

“I really have nothing much to offer after all the many years but everything comes from God,” he said.

Archbishop Jose Lazo of Jaro, together with Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu and Archbishop Emeritus Angel Lagdameo of Jaro ordained Billones to the episcopacy.

In July, Pope Francis appointed Billones as auxiliary bishop of Cebu. It’s been 15 years that a bishop from the Jaro archdiocese has been appointed.

Around 2,000 people packed the cathedral for the celebration, including Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Papal Nuncio Gabriele Caccia, and 20 other bishops.

More than a hundred priests from the archdioceses of Jaro and Cebu also graced the celebration, including some political leaders.

In his homily, Cardinal Tagle reminded the new bishop that “the episcopal office, at heart, is a network of relationships”.

“Without those relationships, the ministry aspects might be done efficiently but not really done by a bishop. Maybe done by a functionary but not really a minister,” he said.

The moment turned emotional for Billones and some people around when the cardinal wished that his family was present during his ordination.

“But I believe they are here. And the family of God is here… bound to you not by blood, by love,” Tagle said.

The bishop was born on July 4, 1969, in Pan-ay, Capiz, the first of two children of Andres and Mila.

“They have all gone ahead of me but today they are present in this bigger family,” Billones said as he shed tears.

An auxiliary assists the bishop — in this case, Archbishop Palma — in carrying out his duties.

Billones said it was Palma, who was then a priest of Jaro, that helped him “go forward” and pursue the priesthood.

“I look forward to continue being guided by him and hopefully become his extension in loving the people entrusted to him by Christ,” he said.

The prelate also went emotional when he addressed the seminarians at St. Joseph Regional Seminary in Jaro where he served as rector since 2013 until he was appointed bishop.

“How can I forget to thank God for my dear seminarians, my sons… they who have taught me that the real meaning of priesthood is fatherhood,” Billones added.

Billones was ordained a priest on Oct. 2, 1995.

From 2004 to 2011, he underwent study leave in Rome where he obtained his Licentiate in Sacred Theology and his Doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

After returning from his studies in Rome, he was appointed Vice-Rector and Human Formation Director at St. Joseph Seminary, later becoming its rector.

Billones also served as one of the theologians in the Office for Theological Concerns at the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC).

The bishop was also among the drafters of the new Ratio Nationalis for seminary formation. WITH REPORTS FROM JANE SAMPIANO/CBCPNEWS