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Pope names two new bishops for dioceses in southern Philippines

MANILA (UCAN): Pope Francis named Father Cosme Almedilla and Claretian Father Leo Dalmao as the new bishops for Butuan, Agusan del Norte province, and Isabela, Basilan province, in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.
 
Father Almedilla, who comes from the Diocese of Talibon in Bohol province, will succeed Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos who died in October 2017. Father Dalmao, who also comes from Bohol, will take over from Bishop Martin Jumoad who was named bishop of Ozamiz in 2016.
 
Father Dalmao is currently general consultor and general prefect of Formation of the Claretian congregation. At 49-years-old, he becomes the first Filipino Claretian missionary to join the College of Bishops.
 
Father Elias Ayuban cmf, superior of the Claretian congregation in the Philippines, said the people of Basilan “deserve a pastor who knows the plight of the faithful.”
He said, “I’m so happy for the people of Basilan.” 
 
Father Dalmao’s first assignment following his ordination to the priesthood in 1997 was with the Sama-Badjau tribe in the province.
 
“His years staying there provided him the chance to know and experience the life and mission of the congregation,” Father Ayuban said.
 
Basilan, considered the birthplace of the bandit Abu Sayyaf group, has been a hotbed of extremism over the past three decades.
 
Several members of the clergy, including Claretian missionaries, and Church workers have been either killed or abducted.
 
Father Ayuban said the appointment of Father Dalmao, who once served as superior of the congregation in the Philippines, is consistent with the call of Pope Francis “to leave our comfort zones and to go the geographical peripheries of the Church.”
 
He said, “I consider Basilan as one of the peripheries of the Church … and there’s no better place for a Claretian to be assigned than a place like Basilan.” 
 
Both bishops-elect hail from Bohol, in the central Philippines, and are both products of the Jesuit-run Loyola School of Theology in Manila.
 
Father Dalmao was born in Tagbilaran and entered the Claretian congregation in 1986. He finished his philosophy studies at St. Anthony Mary Claret College.
 
After finishing his theology studies, he was ordained a priest by the late former bishop of Isabela, Bishop Jose Maria Querejeta Mendizabal, in 1997.
 
Bishop Mendizabal was a Spanish missionary who was the first Claretian bishop in the Philippines.
 
In 2000, Father Dalmao was named prefect of Students and three years later, became novice master while serving as consultor and prefect of Formation of the Philippine Province.
 
He was elected superior of the Philippine Province of the Claretian missionaries in 2010. While serving in this post, he was elected co-chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines until he was transferred to Rome in 2015.
 
Bishop-elect Almedilla, meanwhile, was born in San Miguel, in Bohol. He took up philosophy at St. John XXII College Seminary in Malaybalay City and the Loyola School of Theology in Manila.
 
After his ordination in 1987, he served at the Holy Child Parish in Ubay, Bohol.
 
He used to be spiritual director at the John XXII College Seminary and director of the Holy Child Academy in Bohol, as well as chaplain at the Asian Hospital and Medical Centre in Muntinlupa City in Metro Manila.
 
Since 2015, Father Almedill, who is known for promoting the Basic Ecclesial Community movement, has been assistant pastoral director of the Diocese of Talibon.

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