The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro will celebrate on April 30 a triple event for the first time in its history.  Two of those events concern one man chosen by God to shepherd His flock.

Rev. Fr. Jose Araneta Cabantan, SSJV, will be celebrating his 20th anniversary as a priest on that day, the very day he will be ordained as a bishop by Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams.

The year 2010 is also the 25th anniversary of the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Camaman-an, where Cabantan studied for the priesthood.

As parish priest of the Miraculous Medal Parish in barangay Lumbia and director of the Social Action Center of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Cabantan was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Malaybalay by Pope Benedict XVI on February 17, replacing Bishop Honesto Pacana, SJ, DD, who tendered his resignation and retirement from the priesthood two years ago. Pacana is now 77 years old.

Upon reaching the age of 75, priests are required to tender their resignation and retire from the priesthood.

Cabantan’s ordination will take place at the newly refurbished St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral here at exactly 9 a.m.

“God truly works in miraculous ways,” Cabantan told the BusinessMirror, saying the day will be more significant because he will be the first bishop who studied for the priesthood at the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.

“Father Joe,” as he is fondly called, was born in 1957 in Lagonglong town, a fifth-class municipality in Misamis Oriental. He is now 52 years old.

“I had a feeling that something big will happen in my ministry as a priest. But I kept the joy in my heart even if I already heard that my ordination as a bishop may take place soon,” he said in the vernacular.

Father Joe was a chemical engineer by profession before he entered the San Jose de Mindanao College Seminary, also located in Camaman-an in 1983.  He graduated from the Cebu Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1979.

From Cebu, he had a short teaching stint at the RVM-run St. John the Baptist High School in Lagonglong, teaching chemistry. But he left teaching for a more lucrative job in Surigao working for Nonoc Mining Co.

But Father Joe “heard” the call of God to enter the priesthood and, after finishing philosophy at the San Jose de Mindanao College Seminary, he entered the St. John Vianney Major Seminary as part of the pioneer batch of seminarians.  The seminary, named after the patron saint of priests, is an interdiocesan theological seminary faithful to the tradition of the Catholic Church in the formation of candidates for the priesthood.

Established in 1985 by the Bishops of the Metropolitan Province of Cagayan de Oro, it serves primarily the dioceses of Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Surigao, Tandag and Malaybalay (Cabustam), and secondarily, other dioceses.

Father Joe was eventually ordained as a priest in 1990.

“God may have something for me in Bukidnon,” he said.

The Diocese of Malaybalay, which has around 1.4 million Catholics, is served by 80 priests and 164 religious.

Father Joe will be the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Malaybalay, following in the steps of Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ; Bishop Gaudencio Rosales (now Archbishop of Manila); and Bishop Pacana.

Claver served as Malaybalay bishop from 1982 to 1984; Rosales from 1984 to 1994; and Pacana from 1994 to 2010.

Father Joe will also be the first Malaybalay bishop to come from Cagayan de Oro since it became a prelature 75 years ago.

article by Bong Fabe of Business Mirror

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