MANILA, June 5, 2013— Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista was formally installed as new head of Imus diocese in a simple ceremony marked by tears and cheers.
A crowd of more than a thousand people packed the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar on Wednesday to welcome their new bishop.
Evangelista celebrated a Mass to formally take possession of one of the country’s fastest growing dioceses in his capacity as the new head of the Catholic Church of Cavite province.
Evangelista, the former bishop of Boac in Marinduque, has indicated that he intends to embrace his role as Imus’ bishop as well as leader of the diocese’s more than two million Catholics.
In his homily, the bishop turned emotional when he thanked the clergy and the laity of Boac and when he entrusted his new ministry to God.
“As your bishop, I promise to give all to you, in the spirit of pastoral charity, and accomplish all things in the light of faith,” Evangelista said.
“Please do pray for me… so that I may have the holiness, strength, humility and deep pastoral charity as I lead my flock of the diocese,” he added.
At least 42 cardinals, archbishops and bishops from all over the Philippines and several local and provincial government leaders attended the occasion.
The Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto and Cardinals Luis Antonio Tagle, Gaudencio Rosales and Ricardo Vidal were Evangelista’s concelebrants.
During the offertory, priests and laypeople performed the “Caracol,” a traditional dance of the Cavite natives as they offer gifts to the bishop bringing a lively atmosphere inside the church.
The people broke into loud cheers and sustained applause when the bishop joined the priests in dancing after the offertory that lasted for a minute.
The Mass ended after Evangelista blessed, for the first time, the image of the Our Lady of Pillar, the Patroness of Imus.
Evangelista is the first Filipino bishop to be appointed by Pope Francis to a diocese. (Roy Lagarde)