Malolos diocese welcomes new bishop

Malolos diocese welcomes new bishop

Attached: Bishop Dennis Villarojo greets the faithful after his installation as the fifth bishop of Malolos Aug. 21. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

August 21, 2019

Malolos, Bulacan

A huge crowd filled the church on Wednesday and burst into applause as they welcomed the new bishop of the Diocese of Malolos.

Bishop Dennis Villarojo was installed as the diocese’s pastoral leader during a Mass at the Malolos Cathedral, also known as the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.

The fifth bishop of Malolos, he’ll now serve as head of the diocese, home to nearly 4 million Catholics in the entire Bulacan province and the nearby city of Valenzuela.

Villarojo, 52, has served as auxiliary bishop of Cebu since 2015.

During his installation on Aug. 21, he was recognized as one who can provide a renewed sense of hope and faith for the local church.

“The mission of the Church is to wipe away the blood, tears, and sweat of those who are heavily laden,” Villarojo said.

The first 20 minutes of the Mass was dedicated to Villarojo’s installation officiated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.

A mitre was placed on his head, a shepherd’s staff was handed to him and then he sat in the cathedra, signifying his possession of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Malolos.

He was then greeted by members of the diocesan clergy and lay faithful who represented various parts of the diocese. Some government leaders also came up to greet him.

Also present were 50 bishops and around 200 priests, mostly Cebu and Malolos.

Upon his arrival in Malolos on Aug. 19, Villarojo visited some ministries that attend to the church’s works of mercy – such as houses of charity and a correctional facility.

The diocese has been without a bishop since Bishop Jose Oliveros died in May 2018. For more than a year, the ecclesiastical territory was overseen by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao as apostolic administrator.

Many of the bishops present during the installation also came all the way from Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Jose Rapadas of Iligan on Aug. 20.

Bishop Rapadas is the first priest from the country’s youngest diocese to be raised to the episcopacy. He will be installed as the new bishop of Iligan in Lanao del Norte on Sept. 5. CBCPNEWS