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Bishop Abarquez is new bishop of Calbayog

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
January 8, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Pope Benedict XVI appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of Calbayog, Bishop Isabelo Caiban Abarquez, Titular Bishop of Talaptula and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Palo.

This was officially announced by Archbishop Jose Palma of the Archdiocese of Palo in a gathering of representatives of the priests, clergy, religious and lay people, at exactly 7:00 o'clock in the evening of January 6 in Calbayog City. Prior to his appointment as the Archdiocese of Palo, Archbishop Palma was the Bishop of Calbayog and he remains as the Apostolic Administrator until the appointment of the new Bishop.

Archbishop Palma said that Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, Vice Mayor Ronald Aquino, Fr. Frisco Cajes, OFM, president of the Christ the King College, Ms. Ignacia Cui and other commission members, were among those who were happy to hear the good news.

Archbishop Palma said that the parishioners in the Diocese of Calbayog must thank the Lord for giving them a permanent pastor and they must pray that Bishop Abarquez will be given the grace and the strength to fulfill his servant leadership in the Diocese of Calbayog.

Although the Vatican webpage carried the announcement that the appointment was done January 5, 7:00 o'clock in the evening Manila time or 12:00 o'clock noon, Vatican time, Archbishop Palma said that the instruction given to him by the Papal Nuncio is for him to announce the appointment at 7:00 o'clock in the evening of January 6.

Archbishop Palma said that he will meet with Bishop Abarquez to confer with him regarding the installation date and other arrangements. He also intimated that the preparations for the Synod of the Diocese of Calbayog is ongoing but it will be the new Bishop already who will convoke the Synod.

Bishop Abarquez, who is now in Cebu, acknowledged the congratulatory text messages sent to him. Bishop Abarquez asked for prayers of the faithful so that he will be able to perform God's will in leading the people of God in the Diocese of Calbayog.

A priest for nearly 20 years and a bishop for 4 years, Bishop Isabelo Abarquez was born in Panlaan, Dumanjug of the Archdiocese of Cebu on July 8, 1956. He studied at Pope John XXIII Minor Seminary for pre-college studies. He took his philosophy course at the San Carlos Seminary College and finally at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos for his theologate. All of these institutions of priestly formation are in Cebu City.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Cebu on June 23, 1987. He was at first appointed professor, then Spiritual Director of the San Carlos Seminary-College. He would later on assume the office of Rector of the said college seminary.

He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu and Titular Bishop of Talaptula on December 27, 2002. His episcopal consecration took place on February 18, 2003 at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Bishop Abarquez was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Palo on June 19, 2004. He was first assigned parish priest of Sts. Peter and Paul in Ormoc City and finally, the pastor of Sto. Nino Church.

At the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Bishop Abarquez is a member of two episcopal commissions: the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education and  the Mixed Commission on Mutual Relations Between Bishops and Religious.

Bishop Abarquez is the tenth Bishop of the Diocese of Calbayog. The first bishop was the late Bishop Pablo Singzon who was appointed on April 12, 1910. The other bishops were the late Bishop Sofronio Hacbang, the late Bishop Michelle Acebedo, Bishop Manuel P. del Rosario who is now Bishop of Malolos, the late Cipriano V. Urgel, Bishop Emeritus Ricardo Pido Tancinco, the late Bishop Sincero Lucero, Bishop Emeritus Maximiano Tuazon Cruz, and Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma who is now the Archbishop of Palo.

Established on April 10, 1910, the Diocese of Calbayog comprises the civil province of Western Samar. It has a Catholic population of about 654,632 out of a total population of 689,087 or 95 percent of its population are Catholics, as gathered from the  Vatican Information Service. It belongs to the Ecclesiastical Province of Palo, Leyte, and is a suffragan of this archdiocese. It has a total number of 54 priests, 48 of who are diocesan priests and 6 are religious priests.