An estimated 5,000 Catholics witnessed the ordination and installation of the new bishop of Marbel in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao on July 11. The 51-year-old Cerilo Casicas, a summa cum laude
graduate on dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University
in Rome, succeeded Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, who retired in April. Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato
described the new prelate, who hails from the central Philippine province of Bohol, as an expert in theology and a "brilliant teacher and formator." Bishop Casicas said he was surprised and humbled by his appointment to lead a diocese that covers three provinces and two cities. "I never aspired nor dreamt to become a bishop," he told the congregation during his ordination. To the clergy and religious, the new prelate said: "Serve your best in spreading the love of God as the people deserve nothing less." Vowing to serve the church as a "good shepherd," the new prelate assumed the responsibility for the pastoral care of more than 1.5 million Catholics. In his homily, Cardinal Quevedo emphasized the values of humility and simplicity at the heart of every bishop's mission. "He has to seek out the poor … he has to travel to the villages and mountains," said the cardinal, adding that the new prelate's "silent example of his life is the most eloquent way of proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom." "The gift of episcopacy is not earned by one's brilliance of mind, or by one's skills and merits," added Cardinal Quevedo. "It is totally the Spirit's gift to be in union with God's Son in the mission of preaching the Kingdom." He urged people to pray for their new bishop as he undertakes the tasks of teaching, sanctifying and ruling. "[Your bishop] has many responsibilities, many of which will lie beyond his own skills and intelligence," said the cardinal. Bishop Casicas was director of pastoral formation and professor at Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary
in Cagayan de Oro City when he was named prelate in April by Pope Francis. Born in the town of Duero in Bohol province on March 18, 1967, Bishop Casicas was ordained a priest on Oct. 27, 1994, for Marbel Diocese. He was educated at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Seminary in Koronadal City and had his theological studies at St. Francis Xavier Regional Seminary in Davao City.
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He also took up Theology at Loyola School of Theology in Manila and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he finished summa cum laude
. Known to the people of Marbel as a priest with a "simple lifestyle," Bishop Casicas is one of the youngest bishops in the country today. He is the diocese's fourth bishop and the first priest ordained in the diocese to become its bishop.