New archbishop finds strength in ‘monastic prayer’

New archbishop finds strength in ‘monastic prayer’

Archbishop-elect Jose Cabantan of Cagayan de Oro. BRENDA P. MILAN

By Ryan Christopher J. Sorote

June 25, 2020

There is nothing more powerful than prayer – and for a Catholic bishop, monastic prayer is one of his most potent sources of spiritual grace.

Outgoing Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan said praying in various monasteries in the diocese offered him a new source of strength in his episcopal ministry.

“The greater are our responsibilities, greater is our need for prayer,” Cabantan said. “I am privileged here with the presence of monasteries where I can spend a period of solitude, reflection and prayer.”

Pope Francis on June 23 has appointed Cabantan as the new archbishop of his native archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

He will replace the 77-year-old and Jesuit Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, whose resignation was accepted by the pope.

Cabantan said the appointment was unexpected, adding that his “unworthiness” for the post brought him to “rely solely” on God’s “love and mercy”.

Meeting with clergy

The archbishop-elect said he will soon meet with the clergy of the archdiocese to assess their situation amidst the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is good to listen also to where they are now as an archdiocese; their ministries, direction and above all to listen to where the Spirit leads us in the midst of this pandemic,” he said.

Cabantan said he also plans to replicate Malaybalay’s diocesan pastoral assemblies, a consultative activity that has been existing for the past 50 years since the time of the late Jesuit Bishop Francisco Claver, the diocese’s first shepherd.

“The pastoral life here in Malaybalay is given life through the diocesan pastoral assemblies, priests and religious assemblies, the different ministries, where communion and participation is upheld that help sustain the fire of fulfilling God’s mission,” he added.


Bishop Cabantan will be installed as the fifth archbishop of Cagayan de Oro on August 28, during the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, the patron saint of the city.

The archdiocese covers the suffragan dioceses of Butuan, Malaybalay, Surigao, and Tandag.

The Vatican has yet to announce Cabantan’s successor in the Malaybalay diocese, which has over a million Catholics in 54 parishes.

“We need to pray to the Holy Spirit to send a new shepherd here in the diocese,” he said.