Unknown to many is a Boholano bishop who has been spreading God’s words to the islets in Mindanao.
For 18 years now, Bishop Antonieto D. Cabajog, DD has been traversing the rough seas of Surigao, Dinagat and Siargao for pastoral visits to 16 parishes, out of the 32 parishes under the Diocese of Surigao.
“It is a unique experience to be riding on a pumpboat to visit parishes and officiate masses and do pastoral visitations,” the Loay-born bishop said as he commended his parish priests who are diligently doing their mission work in the islands. Each of the 16 island has an assigned parish priest, he said.
Bishop Yet, as he is fondly called is welcomed like a superstar during pastoral visits with his good sense of humor as his way of reaching out to the islanders who are hungry of God’s words, said Rev. Jake Maceren who is part of the bishop’s team visiting the islands.
The bishop maintains his own “water-taxi” with full time crew to maintain and ensure their safe trips to the islands, whether in good or bad weather.
“Seeing people troop to chapels in the islands always melts my heart,” Bishop Cabajog said while visiting San Benito Parish in barangay Pitogo, Siargao last week together with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent representative of the Vatican to the United Nations who is on vacation in the country, San Benito Parish Priest Fr. Roman Revelo was on hand to welcome the visiting Boholano archbishop.
The Boholano bishop visits the islands regularly for fiestas, pastoral assemblies, lectors’, lay ministers’, catechists’, youth conventions and other important activities.
Due to the strong Basic Ecclesiastical Communities program, the faith of people is very strong, Bishop Cabajog said with pride.
Commenting on how folks in the islands manifest their faith, Bishop Cabajog said “their parish involvement is priority. Although there is still much to be desired, their evangelization has led them to be more conscious not only of their rights but also their obligations to the Church. “
“They have become more generous especially when it comes to special collections for victims of natural calamities and disasters,” the bishop stressed
He recalled that their Diamond Jubilee in 2014 as a diocese was long talked about by Philippine bishops especially because of the closing Eucharist with filling our Provincial Stadium with more than 10,000 participating parish representatives.
Bishop Cabajog continues to shepherd islanders since 2001 when he was assigned as bishop of Surigao del Norte and Dinagat provinces. Prior his assignment, he was the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
In the scenic Siargao Island are the parishes of Sto Tomas de Villanueva (Gen. Luna) under parish priest Fr. Denish llogon, Sto Nino Parish (Dapa) under Fr. Renato Mantilla, Our Lady of the Pillar Parish (Pilar) under Fr. Marjun Sajulga, Our Lady of Mt. Carmen (Del Carmen) under Fr. Manuel Quiban, Sta Monica under Fr. Almaquio Alaan, Sta Ana (Burgos) under Fr. Donato Ellezar, San Benito under Fr. Ravelo, San Isidro Labrador under Fr. Mansueto Jala, Jr., and Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Socorro) under Fr. Elmer Lendo.
Aside from the parishes in Siargao island, there are six parishes in Dinagat Island which is a separate province of Surigao, namely Immaculate Concepcion (Dinagat) Fr Mario Espanio, San Vicente Ferrer (Basilisa Rizal), Fr. Ricardo Virtudazo, San Isidro Labrado (Loreto) Fr. Ronaldo Severo, St. Peter & Paul (Cagdianao) Fr. Eddie Dumanig, San Vicente Ferrer (Tubajon) Fr. Carmelito Arbilo and San Antonio de Padua (Libjo) Fr. Jade Tillo.