A CELEBRATION of faith and leadership commenced with ordination rites for a new bishop.

Archbishop of Nueva Segovia Most Reverend Marlo Peralta led the ordination and installation of Most Reverend Victor Bendico who will take the reins of the Diocese of Baguio.

Co – consecrators Archbishop of Capiz Most Reverend Jose Advincula Jr. D.D and Bishop-Emeritus of Baguio Most Reverend Carlito Cenzon, were also on hand to witness the Episcopal Ordination and Canonical Possession at the Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral.

The solemn Eucharistic Celebration was also participated by over 40 Archbishops and Bishops of the Philippines, 100 priests from as far as the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Capiz, Reverend Fathers and reverend sisters, family, relatives, friends and guests.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in a message to the diocese of Baguio and Benguet said the coming of Benidico is a not just a celebration for the City of Pines but a celebration of the entire religious community which he described as one in its diversity.

"Let us journey together for the common good, for a just and peaceful called home," said Benidico in his welcome speech.

Benidico, the second bishop of the diocese, is a native from Capiz born and raised in Roxas City and was earlier assigned in Tarlac before he was chosen to lead the diocese of Baguio, after the retirement of Cenzon.

“As one of your son, I ought to speak your language. But pardon me if I cannot do so for this moment. I know I have the variety of things to learn, not only the language but also the culture and tradition,” added Benedico.

Benedico was also given a warm Cordillera reception where he received two resolutions from Baguio and Benguet adopting him as a son of the city and the province.

“The warm welcome and kind heartedness made me feel at home in your midst. I will always be grateful to all of you,” added the bishop.

The coat of arms of the incoming bishop bears the symbols of the sunrise or sunset with the cross symbolizing the journey with the kingdom of God, the symbol for the Our lady of the Atonement Cathedral which is the seat of the diocese; a Cordilleran house and trees symbolizing the culture of the people of the region. The letter “M” with the crown is also present, the symbol of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom Benedico is personally devoted to. In the middle portion there are 3 interconnected arches which represents the seal of the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome, where Benedico obtained his licentiate and doctorate degrees. The Capiz shell is also represented to show Benedico’s hometown.

Benedico earlier said his focus is to strengthen the basic Ecclesiastes community in the city.

The monsignor reiterated the church will continue to help build a stronger spiritual community.

Prior to becoming Baguio's Bishop, Benedico studied in Rome at the Pontifical Institute of St. Anselm from 1996 to 2000.

Outgoing Bishop Cenzon is known for his advocacies and social causes advised Bendico to learn a lot of things in the city which remains a melting pot of different culture and language with Baguio as convergence of different tribal groups all over north Luzon. (Ian Jefery Addatu)