KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/12 July) — Bishop Cerilo “Allan” Casicas was ordained the fourth prelate of the Diocese of Marbel here Wednesday in a three-hour ceremony witnessed by an estimated crowd of 5,000 people.
Bishop Casicas, 51, succeeded Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, 79, who stayed on after the retirement age of 75 until Pope Francis named his successor last April.
More than a hundred bishops and clerics graced the ceremony, including Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo of the Archdiocese of Cotabato and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Bishop Gutierrez headed the diocese for nearly 40 years. He was appointed Marbel bishop on November 15, 1982. The two other bishops of the diocese were Passionist missionaries Quentin Olwell, (1961-1969) and Reginald Arliss (1970-1981).
Bishop Gutierrez, an outspoken critic of big mining projects in the diocese, was former chairperson of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action.
“I never aspire nor dream to become a bishop,” Bishop Casicas said during the ceremony.
The prelate urged the diocesan priests and the religious congregations to “serve with their best abilities in spreading the love of God as the people deserve nothing less.”
At the time the Pontiff appointed Casicas as bishop, he was the director of pastoral formation and professor at the Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Cagayan de Oro City.
Cardinal Quevedo was the main consecrator for the episcopal ordination of the new bishop at the Christ the King Cathedral in Koronadal City.
Cardinal Quevedo described the new prelate as a theological expert, graduating summa cum laude on dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
“He’s a brilliant teacher and formator (on Christian teachings),” the cardinal said.
Bishop Casicas was ordained a priest on October 27, 1994 for the Diocese of Marbel.
Born in Duero, Bohol on March 18, 1967, Bishop Casicas was educated at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Seminary (OLPHS) in Koronadal City. His theological training was completed at St Francis Xavier Regional Seminary in Davao.
After his ordination, he was named as the diocese’s chancellor until 1995 when he became the Dean of Studies at OLPHS. He also served as vicar for different parishes in the diocese.
He also attended German language courses at the Language Institute Kreuzberg in Bonn, Germany.
Bishop Casicas, one of the youngest bishops in the Philippines, is known to maintain a “simple lifestyle.”
“He’s comfortable wearing in public long pants, white t-shirt and slippers,” said Sister Susan Bolanio, a nun from the Oblates of Notre Dame congregation.
Under Bishop Casicas, Sister Bolanio expected the diocese to actively engage in integrative pastoral ministry and social action services. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)