BISHOP Francisco De Leon was installed as the head of the Diocese of Antipolo on Saturday, September 10.

The installation ceremonies of the 69-year-old bishop were held at the Antipolo Cathedral.

De Leon officially assumed pastoral care of the diocese with over 3 million Catholics after Pope Francis accepted the retirement of Bishop Gabriel Reyes.

The retired prelate served the diocese for 13 years. He stepped down after reaching the retirement age of 75 in August.

The new Antipolo prelate said that he is not new to Antipolo, as he shared that when he was a kid his parents bring him there every May as a pilgrim.

“Mga kapatid hindi ako bago sa Antipolo at hindi din bago ang Antipolo sa akin. Nasa elementary pa lang ako ay parati na ako nandito dahil ako ay dinadala dito ng aking mga magulang tuwing Mayo para mag-pilgrimage,” he said in his message to the parishioners.

De leon vowed to continue what his predecessor has started in the diocese and also expressed gratitude to the latter.

“I thank my predecessor Bishop Reyes who gave those 13 years to the diocese of Antipolo its stability and consistency and I will continue to do that and perhaps even more,” he added.

On the other hand, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who also attended the event, urged the faithful to support their new bishop.

“My dear people of God trust your bishop as you trust the Lord...give him the chance to love you. And to you Bishop Francis and to you people of God in the Diocese of Antipolo we entrust all of you to Mary,” he said.

In November 2015, De Leon was named as Coadjutor bishop of Antipolo prior to his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Antipolo in 2007.

He was born on June 11, 1947 in La Huerta, Paranaque and was ordained a priest on June 28, 1975 in the Archdiocese of Manila.

Antipolo diocese is one of the nine suffragans that make up the ecclesiastical province of Manila. (FP/Sunnex)