Civil society organizations and other people’s organizations closely working with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro welcomed the ACDO’s recent transition of leadership with a simple fellowship dinner at the Bishop’s House on August 31, 2020.
The event was preceded by a Holy Mass at the St Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral graced by recently installed Archbishop Jose Araneta Cabantan, D.D. and his predecessor Most Rev. Antonio Javellana Ledesma, S.J., D.D. who was celebrating the 24th Anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination.
“We pay tribute to our mentor, guiding light, and source of inspiration, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma,” said Balay Mindanaw Chairman Emeritus Charlito Manlupig. “We have been truly blessed by his uplifting accompaniment.”
“To Bishop Tony, we do not say goodbye. Instead, we say welcome home to the NGO community. With you around, we look forward to more strategic, dynamic, spirited and passionate initiatives toward equity, development and peace,” he added.
Similar plaudits were shared by Dr. Anselmo Mercado, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Trustees for First Community Cooperative (FICCO) Community Outreach Foundation and former dean of the Xavier University College of Agriculture and Director of the South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN), two posts which were also formerly occupied by Bishop Tony.
“As a student of leadership, I have learned some useful concepts to view our leaders and how their leadership impact on people and communities. Let me mention a few.”
“1. Some great leaders are made of extraordinary, “unusual stuff” that makes them most effective. Some are “born a leader”; others witness and see great leaders, “they are made, not born”.
“In Archbishop Tony, I have no reservation and no hesitation to say, that Divine Hands and Providence have made, molded and chose him to be the kind of a leader he is, in the situations, contexts and places he has served.”
“2. Effective leaders “get things done”, yes good things, for the benefit of others. They “produce good results”. They sow the good seeds; the seeds grow and produce good fruits.”
Mercado cited how Bishop Tony in his homily shared some of his significant experiences and learnings in working and serving in the “vineyards of the Lord”, in the parishes of Ipil Prelature, Zamboanga del Sur, his first assignment as Bishop (June 13, 1996 – 2006):
The establishment of “KRISKA” (Ang Kalihokan Kristohanon’g Katilingban) or Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC); 2) the promotion of the Natural Family Planning methods; 3) a commitment to his personal chosen twin-theme of “Peace and Development” and several programs to pursue its goals amidst “troubled times” of terrorism, banditry, poverty, etc.; and 4) the advocacy for political education to establish the culture of Good Governance, called “Managsilingan Ta“.
“When he was assigned as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, he replicated many of the Ipil Prelature ministries and programs, and expanded on them with the establishment of the Archdiocesan “Ad-Intra” and “Ad-Extra Ministries”, multi-faceted social, economic and spiritual apostolate,” Mercado added.
Archbishop Ledesma was born March 28, 1943 in Iloilo City. He attended elementary school at St. Aloysius School, and finished his degree in History and Government, graduating magna cum laude in 1963 at the Ateneo de Manila.
He studied Philosophy and Theology at the Loyola House of Studies, and attained his master’s degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the United States, completing his doctorate in Development in 1980.
On May 30, 1963, Bishop Ledesma entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained priest on April 16, 1973.
He served as an assistant parish priest in Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay on 1980-1981. Afterwards, he worked as a professor and was assigned to various positions in Xavier University where he taught Sociology, Economics, and Religious studies from 1982-1996.
During this period, he was also active as chairman of various civil society organizations and non-government organizations (NGOs), a trait which would mark his later episcopacy as archbishop.
On March 4, 2006, he was appointed Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro by Pope Benedict XVI . In the interim, he led the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines as Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue since 2009, in which capacity he convened local religious leaders in inter-religious dialogues on different social issues. \
In the aftermath of the deadly Tropical Storm Sendong flashflood of December 16-17, 2011, he stepped up to lead the multi-sectoral relief effort to address the needs of the flood victims.
On June 23, 2020, Pope Francis accepted his resignation as Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro and he was succeeded by then-Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan.
During the mass, Cagayan de Oro City Administrator Teodoro Sabuga-a Jr. talked about Archbishop Ledesma’s leadership in engaging the archdiocese with the local government under Mayor Oscar Moreno.
“Imagine the church championing the service to the poor and the needy nagsalig lang sa volunteers for personnel and logistics. Dako nako nga learning kining spirit of voluntarism as the real mode in public service,” Sabuga-a stressed.
“Mao ning dako nga challenge sa Government kay nagkolekta ta sa taxes and we need to deliver that back in form of services to the people yet still the church is closer to the people. Kita sa Government we have to bring Government closer to the people pa. Busa maayo mapakusog ang partnership sa church ug local Government after all we share the same people to be served. Hulaman nako maka inspired nga words ni Bishop Ledesma pulong nga STEWARDSHIP, kitang tanan busa dili nato abusohan ang tinubdan sa kinabuhi angay kini nato panggaon ug amomahon ang KINAIYAHAN para himsog nga kapuy-an sa sunod nga henerasyon.”
Sabuga-a gifted both archbishops with a prancing horse figurine made by drug rehab patients courtesy of the local government and explained the symbolism behind the tokens.
“Initiative to nila Rhyzelle in-charge nato sa anti-drug campaign naa baya sulod sa archdiocese ang center nabutang. Only in the Philippines kini nga partnership between sa church ug local government ‘cause we believe that there is life after rehab thanks to Bishop Tony for this.”
“I still can recall 2 months pag assume ni Mayor Moreno as city mayor gi invite mi ni Bishop Tony sa iyang sala. To our surprise naa didto iyang mga volunteers ministry heads.”
“Iyang tuyo nga ma forge ang partnership busa nag workshop mi with Myrna (Siose) and Bishop Tony, iyang nga ministry ug mga division heads sa City Social Welfare Dept. kay gusto ni Mayor Oca nga naay system of referrals. For every ministry ug CSWD ug unsa nga services sa church dapat naa sab ang city. Usa ana atong migrants worker program sa CSWD gidugang nato then all special bodies sa city naa jud interfaith group as member.”
In addition to delivering their tributes to Archbishop Ledesma, other civic leaders attending the mass also welcomed the new archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.
“To Archbishop Joe, we say welcome home to your flock. We hope to nurture, sustain and even take to new heights the meaningful inter-religious dialogue, promotion and protection of human
rights and the various peace building initiatives with the new Archbishop’s wisdom, guidance and support,” said Balay Mindanao Chairman Emeritus Charlito Manlupig.
Ann-an Pielago Denuyo of the Health Ministry Network shared similar sentiments for the two prelates.
“It’s an honor to be one of ACDO’s Ad Extra Ministry Heads. We thank you for your love, trust and support. With your guidance, we have reached the goal. You’ve been so generous and kind Tatay to us whose heart is willing to listen to our tears and smiles.”
“We just want you to know how much we care for you. We have learned so much from you on how to live with others in the Peripheries. We have learned how to stand and be strong despite of hardships in the journey.”
“We wish we could serve more specially to those who need us most. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the direction of Archbishop Jose A Cabantan, we are praying to do more and to continue what has been started.”
Archbishop José Araneta Cabantan was born in Lagonglong, on June 19, 1957. He completed his secondary education at Saint John the Baptist High School in Lagonglong and received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Cebu Institute of Technology in Cebu City, his Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from St. John Vianney Theological seminary in Cagayan de Oro, and his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Loyola School of Theology in Manila.
He was ordained a priest on April 30, 1990 in Lagonglong for the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.
After a year as associate pastor at the Cathedral, he was Administrator of the San Roque parish of Catarman, Camiguin; then Dean of Studies at the San Jose de Mindanao Seminary in Cagayan de Oro.
After three years study at the Loyola School of Theology and a year as Director of the San Jose Seminary in Quezon City, he was appointed formator at the St.John Vianney Theological Seminary in Cagayan de Oro, and later pastor of the Medalla Milagrosa parish in Cagayan de Oro.
He was elected Bishop of Malaybalay on February 18, 2010, and consecrated on April 30.
Within the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, Bishop Cabantan serves as President of the Episcopal Commission for Basic Communities.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Jose A. Cabantan to head the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines on June 23, 2020, and he was subsequently installed on August 28, 2020 at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral during the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, patron saint of Cagayan de Oro. (RMB)