Newly ordained Boholano Bishop Leo Dalmao has been installed as the highest ranking Church official in the strife-torn island province of Basilan.
Dalmao was ordained and installed as head of the Prelature of Isabela at the Sta Isabel Cathedral in Isabela City, Basilan on May 24, 2019, said the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The Prelature of Isabela comprises the whole of Basilan, including Isabela City, its former capital, and Lamitan City, the new capital.
According to the CBCP, Dalmao, 49, is the fourth prelate of the prelature in the Muslim province of Basilan and the first Filipino Claretian to join the College of Bishops.
Hundreds of bishops, priests, nuns, and laypeople attended Dalmao’s ordination and installation.
Archbishop Romulo Dela Cruz of Zamboanga served as the principal consecrator, assisted by Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz, who was the homilist.
Also present were CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles, Msgr. Gabriel Viola of the Apostolic Nunciature and Fr. Joseba Kamiruaga, secretary general of Rome-based Claretian congregation.
Dalmao filled the post left by Jumoad who was transferred to Ozamiz in late 2016.
Jumoad had earlier expressed approval on the appointment of Dalmao as his successor.
“I am happy with his appointment. It is an excellent choice,” he said in an earlier interview.
The Catholic prelate believed that the then-bishop-elect, who has served the area after his ordination as priest is loved by both Christians and Muslims there.
“He is not new to Basilan. He was assigned before there in Basilan. He knows many people and he is well-loved not only by Catholics but even by our Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said.
“He handled the Badjau Apostolate Program. He was assigned in Tumahubong and Maluso. He can mix and relate to all sectors in Basilan and they rejoice with his appointment as the 4th Bishop of the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan,” Jumoad added.
According to the CBCP, Dalmao was assigned to Basilan where he managed a project for indigenous Samal-Badjau after his priestly ordination in 1997.
Right before his ordination as bishop, Dalmao was serving as General Prefect of Formation of the Claretian Missionaries in Rome.
He was appointed as bishop of Isabela by Pope Francis on March 25. (rt with PNA)