THE Diocese of Malolos in Bulacan has a new bishop after the Vatican has appointed a Cebuano bishop to head the Roman Catholic Church of the historical place, the archbishop of Cebu announced Tuesday night.
Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma said Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo has been appointed as the new Bishop of Malolos.
Palma made the announcement in a gathering of priests, volunteers, and media at the Filipiniana Hall at the Archbishop’s Residence here.
“At 6 p.m., that’s 12 o’ clock (noon) in Rome, the announcement of the appointment of Most Rev. Dennis Villarojo as Bishop of Malolos (came),” Palma announced.
“This morning during the birthday of Msgr. (Achielles) Dakay, Papal Nuncio Osvaldo Padilla was telling me ‘I don’t know if I have to say condolence or congratulations,’ because when a bishop is appointed bishop of Malolos he will be leaving Cebu and that’s what we mean condolence,” Palma said in jest.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Cebu noted that the people of Malolos “has been longing for a bishop” since May last year after its prelate, Bishop Jose Oliveros, died at the age of 71 after a long fight with prostate cancer.
“From a certain perspective, I was saying that it’s easy for them to get bishops and it’s not easy to give us. So we wait for the new ones,” the prelate of Cebu said in a video posted by Rev. Fr. Felmar Fiel, SVD, over Youtube.
The Archdiocese of Cebu used to have two auxiliary bishops. However, Villarojo became the lone assistant bishop after Pope Francis appointed Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio as Bishop of the Military Ordinariate last March 2.
Since the appointment of Florencio, the Holy See has not assigned a replacement nor appointed a new one through ordination to a bishop from the hundreds of priests and monsignors in the archdiocese.
“Malolos is one of the biggest dioceses” in the country, Palma quipped.
When called to deliver a message after the announcement, Villarojo jokingly uttered Filipino greetings, “magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat (good evening to you all).”
He narrated the moment when he received a call from his Theology classmate, Monsignor Arnaldo Catalan, to tell him about his appointment to Malolos.
“Yes, yes this is what I do and you have to believe me,” Villarojo quoted Catalan as saying.
Catalan, is the First Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila.
Villarojo thanked Palma, the priests, seminarians, and the laity in Cebu who have supported him in his vocation as a priest and later as bishop.
Villarojo, who concurrently heads the team ministry of the Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish in Capitol Site, was designated as auxiliary bishop of Cebu by Pope Francis last July 3, 2015. He was consecrated on August 10 of the same year.
The new bishop of Malolos completed his high school at the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos (now the University of San Jose-Recoletos). He entered the San Carlos Seminary College in Cebu archdiocese and later continued his theological studies at the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas in Manila and obtained his licentiate degree in Ecclesiastical Philosophy.
Villarojo was ordained deacon by the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin in Manila in 1993 and a year later (June 10, 1994), he was ordinated priest by the late Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, whom he had served for as personal secretary for four years until 1998.
Villarojo continued his post-studies at the Pontificia Università della Santa Croce in Rome.
The Archdiocese of Cebu will organize a delegation of Cebuanos who will accompany Villarojo to Bulacan on the occasion of his installation as the new bishop of Malolos, Palma said.
The schedule has yet to be announced.