PARAÑAQUE City, Nov. 22, 2015 – Former Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francisco M. de Leon on Saturday, the eve of “Christ the King,” invited Catholics in his hometown of Parañaque to pray for him after receiving the unexpected news that Pope Francis had officially made him the coadjutor bishop of his diocese.
“Pray for me,” the prelate urged the faithful after celebrating Mass at the Cathedral Parish of St. Andrew in La Huerta, Parañaque, where he was born and grew up, and whose parochial school he is a graduate of.
“Ibig sabihin po ng coadjutor bishop mayroon po akong right of succession … humalili kapag nagretire ang aking obispo, si Bishop Gabriel Reyes.” (It means as coadjutor bishop, I have the right to succeed the incumbent bishop of Antipolo, Bishop Gabriel Reyes, in the event that he retires),” the prelate pointed out in a brief explanation.
De Leon shared that at exactly 7:00 p.m. (12:00 p.m. in Rome), he was informed that the Holy Father had given him this new appointment.
“Starting tonight I am no longer the auxiliary bishop of Antipolo. I am now the coadjutor bishop of Antipolo,” he said in an impromptu announcement which the congregation received with an applause.
De Leon went on to share that when he was auxiliary bishop he would ask Reyes how he could better serve him.
Now that he is a coadjutor, the prelate quipped that he can now freely greet him, “How is your health, Bishop?”
De Leon became auxiliary bishop of Antipolo in June 27, 2007 and was formally installed pn Sept. 1, later that year.
Before his latest appointment, he had served as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Kalookan from Jan. 2013 to Oct. 2015.
Meanwhile, besides De Leon, Nueva Segovia Auxiliary Bishop David William V. Antonio also received a new appointment from Pope Francis, as Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, Mindoro, a Vatican Radio article confirms.
The same report adds that other than retirement, the resignation and death of the incumbent automatically makes the coadjutor—unlike an auxiliary—the next lead bishop of a diocese. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)