By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Philippine Catholic Church has two new bishops.
Pope Francis on Monday appointed Boholano priests Cosme Almedilla as bishop of Butuan and Leo Dalmao as bishop of Isabela in Basilan.
Almedilla of the Diocese of Talibon will succeed Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos who died in October 2017.
Claretian priest Dalmao, on the other hand, will take over the post vacated by Martin Jumoad, who was appointed archbishop of Ozamiz in October 2016.
According to a CBCP News post, San Miguel, Bohol-native Almedilla was ordained a priest on Aug. 4, 1987.
Upon his appointment, the 60-year-old priest has been serving at the Holy Child Parish in Ubay, Bohol.
He also served as spiritual director at the John XXII College Seminary, Director of the Holy Child Academy in Bohol, and chaplain at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City.
Since 2015, Almedilla who is also known for promoting the Basic Ecclesial Community movement, has been Assistant Pastoral Director of the Talibon diocese.
As for Dalmao, the 49-year old bishop-elect is currently serving as Consultor and the Prefect of Formation at the Istituto Guiridico Claretiano in Rome, Italy.
At 49, he will be the first Filipino Claretian to become bishop.
Born in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Dalmao entered the Congregation in 1986 and studied philosophy at Claret Formation Center, now known as St. Anthony Mary Claret College.
After his theology studies, he was ordained priest by the late Bishop Emeritus José María Querejeta Mendizábal of Isabela in 1997.
Mendizábal was a Spanish missionary who served as the first Claretian bishop in the Philippines.
Bishop-elect Dalmao is not new to the prelature. After his ordination, his was assigned in Basilan where he served as project coordinator for indigenous people Samal-Badjau.
In 2000, he was named Prefect of Students and three years later, became Novice Master while serving as Consultor and Prefect of Formation of the Philippine Province.
Ten years later, he was elected as superior of the Philippine Province of the Claretian Missionaries.
While serving the post, he was also elected as co-chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines until he was transferred to Rome in 2015.
Dalmao remains to be the first and the only Filipino priest elected to the general government of the Claretians worldwide.