Consultation on Interreligious Dialogue and Peacebuilding in Mindanao

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, D.D outgoing Chairman of the CBCP – Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, together with the incoming Chairman of the said Commission, Bishop Angelito Lampon, OMI, D.D, Silsilah Dialogue Movement and the Catholic Relief Services spearheaded the Consultation on Interreligious Dialogue and Peacebuilding in Mindanao. The Consultation takes place, as of writing, at the Silsilah Oasis of Dialogue Training Center, Harmony Village, Sinunuc, Zamboanga City on July 25 – 28, 2011.vBishops, Priests and Lay Collaborators from different archdioceses and dioceses of Mindanao are in full attendance.

Archbishop Ledesma, SJ, who welcomes the participants from different archdioceses and dioceses emphasized that the very reason for this consultation is for us, Catholics, to look into ourselves and see what have we done on the issues on Peace in Mindanao. He will talk about “Interreligious Dialogue In A Spirit-Filled World.”

Here is the introduction of his talk:

In 1965, almost half a century ago, the Catholic Church observed the completion of the Second Vatican Council. Three of its most important documents that situate the Church in the modern world were completed during the last session of the Council. These were: (1) Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World; (2) Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, and (3) Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom.

Taken together, these documents extend the horizons for the Church’ engagement with the modern world – through dialogue, openness towards other religions, and recognition of the primacy of conscience, in the search for truth within a social context of religious freedom.

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Participants will be given time to present before the group their activities for peace in the last 3 years.  The consultation hopes to see the many ways and means in which Catholic Institutions work for peace in response to the different needs arising in their own localities.

A situation on the Peace situation of Mindanao will also be presented by Resource Speakers within the consultation days.

 

 

All-Natural Family Planning as a Pastoral Imperative

(A Pastoral statement of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life through the office of Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ – Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro and Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto, D.D. – Chair, Episcopal Commission on Family and Life. In this letter, Archbishop Ledesma categorically state that the ALL-NFP program implemented in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and introduced to other Archdioceses and Dioceses of the country has never included back-up contraceptives.)

All-Natural Family Planning as a Pastoral Imperative

 11 July 2011

Dear Brother Bishops, Family Life Coordinators, and Pro-Life Advocates,

In our CBCP Pastoral Letter of 30 January 2011, we expressed our rejection of the Reproductive Health Bill because of its promotion of artificial methods of family planning.  On the other hand, we also said that we are pro-life and for the “responsible and natural regulation of births through Natural Family Planning.” Hence, the active and widespread promotion of NFP becomes a pastoral imperative for all our dioceses.

Several dioceses have started to implement a serious and systematic program on NFP.  In particular, the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro over the past five years has implemented an All-NFP program.  This All-NFP program has three meanings: (1) We teach all modern, scientific methods of NFP, including the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM), and the Standard Days Method (SDM); (2) We reach out to all parishes and kapilya communities through volunteer resident NFP counselors; and (3) We promote NFP all the way – i.e., without back-up contraceptives.

Despite the evidence-based results achieved by the program (e.g., there are now more than 4,500 NFP couple-users as of June 2011), we still hear some disturbing reports about some individuals claiming to be the diocesan coordinators of the Family Life Apostolate or representing the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.  They allege that SDM has not been approved by CBCP and that the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro promotes SDM with back-up contraceptives.

It is in this light that we wish to reiterate the Consensus Statement that we bishops made in January 2009: (1) “The Standard Days Method, provided it is not mixed with contraceptives, is a natural family planning method and is consistent with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.”  This was earlier affirmed by Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo of the Pontifical Council on the Family during the bishops’ ad limina visit in 2003.

(2)  While acknowledging the individual bishop’s pastoral discernment to promote SDM or not in his diocese, he “may not prohibit any couple in his diocese from using SDM as their method of natural family planning.”

(As Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, let me state categorically that our All-NFP program has never included back-up contraceptives.  Neither have we promoted only SDM, but have rather included six modern NFP methods.  We have also not received any USAID funding, but have depended mostly on local resources and a two-year grant from Catholic Relief Services.  Abp. Aniceto has visited our NFP pilot sites in 2008 and listened to actual testimonies from appreciative NFP users.)

We appeal to all our brother bishops, family life coordinators, ECFL members and pro-life advocates to heed the Consensus Statement of CBCP on SDM.  By eliminating the traces of in-fighting among NFP advocates, we can present a united and positive alternative to the RH Bill.

Looking ahead, Hapag-Asa, the supplemental feeding program of Assisi Foundation, as well as Caritas-Manila, have both organized All-NFP training seminars for their workers and have started to integrate NFP in their existing social action programs.  Likewise, the Catholic Women’s League national board has offered the services of their diocesan chapters in helping promote All-NFP in their areas of responsibility.  All they need is the go-signal of the local bishop.

In a consultation meeting on NFP among bishops on 7 July 2011, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, Ambassador Howard Dee of Assisi Foundation, and Dr. Zenaida Rotea of the Catholic Women’s League expressed their full support for the widespread promotion of All-Natural Family Planning.  On the part of the Archdiocese of the Cagayan de Oro, we are ready to share our All-NFP training seminars and manuals with any interested diocese.

Sincerely in the Holy Family,

+Abp. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ                                +Abp. Paciano B. Aniceto, D.D.

Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro                                     Chair, Episcopal Commission                                                                                               on Family and Life

A TIME OF PAIN, A TIME OF GRACE (A Pastoral Statement)

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(The Catholic Church of the Philippines was rocked by the PCSO controversy. Please take time to read this Pastoral Statement published by the Bishops in response to this recent crisis.)

Author:

+ Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D                                                                                                          Bishop of Tandag                                                                                                                                  President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines                                                            July 11, 2011

Our Dear People of God,

Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks. Some members of the Church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow. We your pastors are one with you. As shepherds struggling to love you like Jesus the Good Shepherd, we are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you.

We are saddened that many of you, especially the youth, the poor, our Basic Ecclesial Communities, have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching.

As we express our sadness, we also ask you to be slow in judgment and to conscientiously seek the whole truth behind the controversy. Let us seek the truth always in charity.

We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their action and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous, and unconstitutional. We assure you that their action was done without malice. Out of their sincere desire to help their people, they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them. They have also expressed their readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so that we can all move forward in hope.

We also assure you, our beloved people, that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in the light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to the long journey of personal and social transformation required of all disciples of the Lord. We plead with you to walk with us in this path of constant renewal.

We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you. The words of the psalmist come to our mind: “My sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn” (Ps.51). As the same Psalmist addresses the Lord, we take his words as our own to encourage and challenge us: “Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.”

General Religious Situation of the Archdiocese

General Religious Situation of the Archdiocese (2003 – 2009)

Below is the General Religious Situation of the Archdiocese. The number of vocation in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is relatively small compared with the increasing population and the need of the parishes for more pastors and religious leaders. Thus, we need to awaken and to encourage in our local communities the holy desire for the priesthood and the religious life.

 

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Diocesan Priests

96

99

104

109

115

116

119

Religious Priests

36

40

38

42

Non-Priest Religious

6

7

3

4

Women Religious

165

161

174

174

Minor Seminaries

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Minor Seminarians

71

63

77

66

64

67

83

Major Seminaries

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Major Seminarians

31

24

16

15

17

18

14

Parishes

47

47

47

47

47

47

47

Quasi-Parishes

6

8

9

9

10

10

10

Catholics Educ. Institutions

19

19

19

19

19

19

19

Charitable Institutions

6

6

6

6

6

6

6

Sources: Records of the Archdiocesan Archives and the Chancery Office

ALL-NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING: Going Beyond the RH Bill

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PASTORAL LETTER

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, D.D – Arcbishop of Cagayan de Oro

The controversy over the Reproductive Health Bill has lately been reduced to a zero-sum proposition where concerned citizens are simply asked to say either “Yes” or “No”. On their part, the Catholic Bishops in their Pastoral Letter of 30 January 2011 have rejected the RH Bill, pointing out various objections – e.g., the non-consideration of moral principles, a contraceptive mentality that includes the adoption of abortifacients, compulsory sex education that infringes on the rights of parents, and the use of public funds for population management methods that go against the moral conscience of faith communities.

On the other hand, the CBCP letter also articulates what the bishops stand for – in particular, that we are pro-life, and for the “responsible and natural regularization of births through Natural Family Planning.”

I

It is in this light that here in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro we can review and strengthen our All-Natural Family Planning program as a positive and proactive alternative to the RH Bill. In our program, All-NFP has three connotations: (1) We are including all modern scientific NFP methods; (2) We are reaching out to all parishes and chapel communities; and (3) We are promoting NFP all the way, without back-up contraceptives.

Since the start of our All-NFP program in the latter half of 2006, we have already recorded more than 3,500 couple-acceptors. Ninety percent of our 58 parishes and chaplaincies have conducted orientation seminars followed by trainings of more than 2,000 NFP volunteer counselors. These counselors have their homes in nearly 500 chapel (or barangay) communities where they provide information and follow-up on all NFP methods to resident households. As of December 2010, these counselors have given more than 1,500 chapel-level orientations for roughly 22,000 couples.

Moreover, over the past two years the provincial governments of Misamis Oriental and Camiguin as well as the city of Cagayan de Oro have started their own NFP programs. They have asked us for assistance in the services of our NFP trainors and in sharing our training manuals, which include values formation. In this regard, we have not hesitated to assist these LGUs in the promotion of NFP, particularly since they have issued executive orders and set aside their own budgets for the promotion solely of NFP. In their report for 2010, the NFP trainors of the Provincial Government of Misamis Oriental conducted 345 barangay classes in the 24 municipalities of the province. In Cagayan de Oro, the city government has trained 721 NFP service providers in 62 barangays.

We view this relationship of assisting local government units as engagement, not collaboration – since we keep the church’s NFP program separate and not dependent on the LGU’s program. Nonetheless, with the widespread promotion of NFP by both church and local governments, we can truly say that the whole area of the archdiocese has virtually become “NFP territory.”

The LGUs in their Responsible Parenting Movement-Natural Family Planning program have taken cognizance of our six-step approach in implementation. These are: (1) parish orientation of key leaders; (2) training of NFP counselors; (3) chapel community orientation; (4) counseling of individual couples; (5) monitoring and tabulation; and (6) ongoing values formation. The LGUs have focused on the orientation of municipal and barangay heads followed by the training of Barangay Health Workers. These BHWs in turn help in conducting classes on NFP in their localities.

II

             Going beyond the step-wise implementation of NFP in order to reach out to the more remote areas, what is of greater significance for us is the over-all acceptance by LGUs of our four pastoral guidelines and core values in promoting natural family planning. It is good to keep these parameters in mind since these are the points for dialogue with proponents of the RH Bill in its present form or with some future modifications.

Our first core value which we consider a first and non-negotiable principle is that we are Pro-Life. We uphold the dignity of human life from the moment of conception. We condemn abortion which is also proscribed by the Philippine Constitution. We consider All-NFP as a proactive program that helps prevent the tragedy of unwanted pregnancies and resort to abortion. All-NFP also provides an alternative to contraceptive methods that may be considered as abortifacients.

Our second core value is the exercise of Responsible Parenthood as the goal of our All-NFP program. Instead of “reproductive health,” church documents prefer the term “procreation” to stress the parents’ exalted role in giving birth to another person, body and soul, i.e., “transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person.” (Familiaris Consortio, 28).

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines convened by the Catholic Bishops in 1991 explicitates the meaning of responsible parenthood, synonymous with responsible procreation:

Christian parents must exercise responsible parenthood. While nurturing a generous attitude towards bringing new human life into the world, they should strive to beget only those children whom they can raise up in a truly human and Christian way.Towards this end, they need to plan their families according to the moral norms taught by the Church (PCP II, 583).

 III

           If responsible parenthood is the goal for Christian couples, Natural Family Planning is the means considered consistent with the moral norms taught by the Church. This then is our third core value. But why NFP? The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the nature of NFP and its rationale:

Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them,and favor the education of an authentic freedom (CCC, 2370).

From our pastoral experience in Cagayan de Oro (and earlier in Ipil Prelature), family life workers report various reasons why couples are attracted to NFP:

  • Normal intercourse is preserved without any artificial barriers.
  • NFP is morally acceptable to people of all religions and cultures. The twofold unitive and procreative ends of marriage are not separated.
  • NFP can be used to avoid or to achieve pregnancy.
  • There are no inherent health risks in NFP methods, unlike the use of contraceptives.
  • NFP is pro-poor. No costs are involved once the method has been learned. Couples do not need to go to health centers, donor agencies, or drugstores. Unlike contraceptives, NFP is not for profit.
  • NFP is sustainable across generations. Mothers can readily pass on the practice of NFP to their daughters.
  • NFP engenders sexual discipline for the spouses, mutual caring, and the development of self-control that is carried over in the upbringing of the children.
  • NFP enhances communication between spouses and a wholesome family life. From comparative studies, NFP couples seldom or never end up in separation or divorce, or resort to abortion.
  • NFP methods are effective and reliable, based on scientific studies.
  • Modern simplified methods of NFP are much easier to learn and can be adopted by many more couples.

In our All-NFP program, we have included six modern scientific methods – i.e., the Basal Body Temperature, Billings Cervical Mucus, Sympto-Thermal, Lactational Amenorrhea, Standard Days, and TwoDay methods.

The most widely acceptable among these is the Standard Days Method. This is a simplified, standardized, calendar-based method of NFP developed over the past decade by Georgetown University through computer simulation and the science of statistical probability. Based on our periodic reports, SDM users range from one-half to two-thirds of all NFP adopters. In terms of efficacy rate, SDM has a slightly lower score compared to BBT or BOM, but this is more than offset by its much higher acceptability rate. Many couples have also learned to combine SDM with mucus observation as a double check.

Despite the allegation that SDM may be used with back-up contraceptives, the bishops in plenary assembly arrived at a consensus statement, first in 2003 and again in January 2009, stating that “SDM, provided it is not mixed with contraceptives, is a natural family planning method and is consistent with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.” While acknowledging the individual bishop’s pastoral discernment to promote SDM or not, the consensus statement adds that “the bishop may not prohibit any couple in his diocese from using SDM as their method of natural family planning.”

In a personal audience with the Holy Father on 25 February 2011, I presented to him two publications, including the training manual, on our All-NFP program and briefly explained our inclusion of simplified methods such as SDM. Pope Benedict’s immediate response went to the heart of the matter: “Yes, simplified methods are good for simple people.”

IV

Our fourth core value and pastoral guideline in All-NFP promotion is to enable couples to make an Informed and Morally Responsible Choice according to the dictates of a right conscience. The Church’s role in this regard is twofold:

(1)   to help couples form a right conscience through values formation so that they are able to make a morally responsible choice; and

(2)   to provide information on all scientifically-based NFP methods.

Information on all valid NFP methods becomes a pastoral imperative, particularly in the light of three felt needs among a growing number of couples today. First, they want to plan their families in terms of spacing births and determining family sizes. Secondly, they prefer natural family planning, provided they are given adequate information on fertility awareness and the various NFP methods. And thirdly, they also want to choose among NFP methods according to their own circumstances and preference.

It is not for us to choose beforehand what the “best NFP method” is for couples. Neither did Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “On the Regulation of Birth,” equate NFP with a particular method. On the contrary, it extended a general appeal to scientists: “It is particularly desirable that . . . medical science succeed in providing a sufficiently secure basis for a regulation of birth, founded on the observance of natural rhythms” (HV, 24). Pope John Paul II repeated this appeal to doctors, teachers, and couples “for a broader, more decisive and more systematic effort to make the natural methods of regulating fertility known, respected and applied” (FC, 35).

On the other hand, the role of government is also acknowledged in the Catechism of The Catholic Church:

The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children. In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law (CCC, 2372).

In this regard, reiterating what we have already said in our pastoral letter of 25 July 2008, we join our voices with other dioceses and church groups in rejecting legislative measures that would include subtle forms of coercion, infringe on the rights of parents, or allow the inclusion of family planning methods that may be considered abortifacient.

On the other hand, a church congress declaration, referring to NFP methods, points out a likely role for government with regard to NFP methods: “All couples have the right to know of them and to have access to them. Governments should offer resources for natural family planning services and research without imposing discriminatory conditions.”

On his part, Pope John Paul II has gone beyond the “anti-life” labeling and pointed out the distinction between contraception and abortion:

From the moral point of view contraception and abortion are specifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage; the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment, “You shall not kill!” (Evangelium Vitae, 13).

In the final analysis, the most effective way of saying “No! to the RH Bill” is by saying “Yes! to All-NFP” and operationalizing this in all our parishes and chapel communities. If the RH Bill is shelved by Congress, it would still be incumbent for us in the local church to promote All-NFP to address the felt needs of couples, particularly among the urban and rural poor, for family planning. On the other hand, if the RH Bill is passed, all the more do we have to show a positive alternative to the practices of artificial means of birth control.

Meanwhile, in the archdiocese we are gratified to receive an increasing number of requests from other dioceses, civil society organizations, and government agencies for our All-NFP training seminars and manuals. We also commend our lay religious organizations like the Catholic Women’s League and Couples for Christ whose members have worked together with our volunteer resident counselors in promoting All-NFP throughout the archdiocese. There is wisdom and a note of urgency in a family life worker’s remark: “The more we promote natural family planning, the more contraceptives will die a natural death.”

(19 April 2011)

Pastoral Visits of the Archbishop

Pastoral Visits

The Bishop’s pastoral visits to parishes, Catholic institutions and religious communities deepen his relationship like a father to his children. Though these visits are not regular, they have been very important to the people in the parishes and other religious and sectoral communities. He normally spends his time among the different sectoral groups in order to listen to their stories, concerns, and hopes.

Pastoral visits are usually timed with Confirmation Masses or Fiesta Mass celebrations. This enables the bishop to meet parish leaders and local ministry workers. On the average, the bishop tries to visit each of the 58 parishes and chaplaincies at least once a year. Some parishes are visited more often.

The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro has 6 Districts with 58 parishes that the Archbishop has to visit regularly. These are Initao District, City-West District. City-East District, Balingasag District, Gingoog District, and Camiguin District.

 

Districts and their Parishes

INITAO DISTRICT

  1. Lugait
  2. Manticao
  3. Naawan
  4. Initao
  5. Libertad
  6. Guitagum
  7. Laguindingan
  8. Aluibijid
  9. El Salvador
  10. Opol and (Barra)

CITY-WEST DISTRICT

  1. Iponan
  2. Bulua
  3. Eco-Church
  4. RER
  5. Carmen
  6. Balulang
  7. Canitoan
  8. Calaanan
  9. Lumbia and (Taglimao)
  10. Dansolihon
  11. Pueblo de Oro

CITY-EAST DISTRICT

  1. Metro-Cathedral
  2. Nazareth
  3. Aluba
  4. Camaman-an
  5. Consolacion
  6. Puntod
  7. Macabalan
  8. Nazareno
  9. Cogon
  10. Gusa
  11. Cugman
  12. Agusan
  13. Bugo

BALINGASAG DISTRICT

  1. Tagoloan and (Sta. Ana)
  2. Malitbog
  3. Villanueva
  4. Claveria
  5. Jasaan
  6. Bobontugan
  7. Baliwagan and (Malagana)
  8. Balingasag
  9. Lagonglong
  10. Salay
  11. Binuangan

GINGOOG DISTRICT

  1. Sugbongcogon
  2. Kinoguitan
  3. Balingoan
  4. Talisayan
  5. Medina
  6. Gingoog and (Lunao)
  7. Anakan
  8. Magsaysay

CAMIGUIN DISTRICT

  1. Mambajao
  2. Mahinog
  3. Guinsiliban
  4. Sagay
  5. Catarman

 

The Ministry of the Archdiocesan Bishop

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, DD, is active in the promotion and safeguarding of the faith. During his episcopate, since 2006, the ad extra and ad intra Ministries of the Archdiocese have been gradually introduced and established. In matters of national issues that directly or indirectly affect the essentials of the Catholic Faith, he is ready to address them through the many Pastoral Letters he issues which are then read in almost all the pulpits of the parishes. His regular section in the local diocesan publication is an effective avenue for him to spread among the faithful the basic tenets of the Christian Faith and the greater challenge of making it alive and present in every person’s life.

Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ was installed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro on May 30, 200,  at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Augustine, Cagayan de Oro City.

On matters beyond his expertise, the bishop oftentimes consults experts like the canon lawyers of the diocese as well as individuals who are competent in their fields of expertise. He has been very open to lay involvement and is willing to listen to ideas and to enter into collaboration. The Archdiocese is very active with the spreading of the Natural Family Program of the Church, a much advanced and progressive stand prior to the state’s drive to pass the Reproductive Health Bill. The Archdiocese not only fights against the Bill but it offers an effective and well-informed alternative.

He actively supports interreligious dialogue, not only for the safeguarding of the Faith but also for peace and harmony among people of different religions. Leaders of different sects and religions are warmly welcomed in his home. There were a number of occasions when leaders of the different churches in the Archdiocese had a great time sharing meals together and engaging in very warm and friendly dialogue.

The bishop emphasizes adherence to the teaching of the Holy Father and the Magisterium. He translates the teaching of the Magisterium into a language comprehensible to the ordinary folk.

 

The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

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In the beginning, the Bishop of Cebu played an important role in the Mindanao Mission aside from the Missionaries because the whole of Mindanao and Sulu belonged to the diocese of Cebu until 1869, when Sulu and Southern Mindanao (i.e., Zamboanga and Davao) were attached to the newly created diocese of Jaro. The other parts of Mindanao were still under Cebu.

It was only after forty-five years, in 1910, that the diocese of Zamboanga was established as the first diocese ever created in the entire island. Then, twenty-five years after in 1933, Pope Pius XI in a Papal Bull entitled “Ad maius religionis” divided Mindanao between the diocese of Zamboanga in the south and a new diocese that of Cagayan de Oro in the north, to which he appointed an American Jesuit, James Thomas Gibbons Hayes, as the first bishop.

The original territory of the diocese of Cagayan de Oro in 1933 included the provinces of Surigao, Agusan, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Lanao and the island of Camiguin. A series of divisions however, gradually reduced this territory.

During the episcopacy of Bishop Hayes, in 1933, he founded two secondary schools, later raised to colleges – Lourdes College for Girls (run by the RVM Sisters) and the Ateneo de Cagayan for Boys (run by the Jesuits and raised to University status as Xavier University in 1958).

It was in the thirteenth year of the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII, on the 29th of June 1951, when the Papal Bull, Quo Phillipina Republica, was decreed in order to serve better and more easily the spiritual needs of the Lord’s flock in the Philippine Republic. The bull contained the Pope’s decision to create new Dioceses and to constitute new Ecclesiastical Provinces in the Philippines. The Dioceses of Lingayen, Caceres, Nueva Segovia, Tuguegarao, Legaspi, Sorsogon, and the Prelature Nullius of Batanes and Babuyanes, as well as the Dioceses Bacolod, Cagayan, Capiz, Jaro or Santa Isabel, Surigao, Zamboanga, and the Prelature Nullius of Cotabato and Sulu, Davao and Ozamis, were withdrawn from the Metropolitan Archbishoprics of Manila and Cebu. From these Dioceses, four new Ecclesiastical Provinces were constituted, namely, Nueva Segovia, Caceres, Jaro, and Cagayan de Oro. The Episcopal seats of these dioceses were elevated to the rank and dignity of Metropolitan Archbishops. Bishop James G. Hayes, S.J., became the Metropolitan Archbishop.

To date, from the suffragans decreed to the care of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, two Archdioceses were born, the Archdioceses of Zamboanga and Davao. At present, new suffragans are decreed to her care: the dioceses of Butuan, Surigao, Tandag, and Malayabalay (CaBuSTaM).

In 1952, the first Columban missionaries arrived in Cagayan de Oro as a response to the Archbishop’s invitation because he felt the dearth of priests who would care for his flock. In 1956, in order to respond to the growing number of priests in the diocese, the San Jose de Mindanao Seminary was opened with Fr. Theodore A. Daigler, SJ, as its first rector. In 1958, the Maria Reyna Hospital was opened and directed by the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres.

After long years of service to the people of Cagayan de Oro and with so much effort to put up the foundations of the Archdiocese since his arrival in 1926, Archbishop Hayes, the modest and humble shepherd of Cagayan de Oro for almost half a century, retired in 1971.

On January 12, 1971, the Most Rev. Patrick Cronin, SSC, formerly Prelate Ordinary of Ozamis and Iligan was installed as Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Cagayan de Oro replacing Archbishop Hayes who had just retired. He continued what Archbishop Hayes had begun. In 1976, through the initiatives of the Archbishop, the House of Friendship located amidst the slum areas of Sto. Nino, Cagayan de Oro City, was opened in order to cater to the needs of the orphans, neglected children, aged, unwed mothers, physically handicapped, refugees, stranded persons, transient indigents, and victims of calamities. At the age of 74 and after serving the people of Cagayan de Oro with utmost love and care, Archbishop Cronin retired due to old age and settled at St. Patrick’s House, Seminary Hill, which he intentionally built as a retirement home and at the same time a home for the aged, sick, and incapacitated diocesan priests of the Archdiocese. To date, priests get together on Mondays for games, meetings, and prayers at St. Patrick’s House.

The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, accepted his resignation as Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Cagayan de Oro. The resignation took effect on January 5, 1988. Archbishop Jesus B. Tuquib, D.D., a native from Clarin, Bohol, who had been the Coadjutor Archbishop took over the office and functions of Archbishop Cronin on that day until the year 2006. On the 30th day of May 2006 Most Reverend Antonio Javellana Ledesma, SJ, DD, was installed as the fourth Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro. Previously, he was Bishop of the Prelature of Ipil in southwestern Mindanao from 1996 to 2006.

(Source: Golden Jubilee of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, 2001)

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