Archdiocese of Cebu welcomes second auxiliary bishop
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Archdiocese of Cebu welcomed its new auxiliary bishop, Bishop-elect Ruben Caballero Labajo during his episcopal ordination at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral of San Vitalis in Cebu City on Friday morning, August 19, 2022.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma celebrated the ritual mass for the conferral of Holy Orders of Labajo, with Most Rev. Charles John Brown, D.D., the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, as the principal ordaining bishop.
About 40 bishops and a large crowd of priests also concelebrated the mass in the presence of Labajo’s family, friends, and parishioners who gathered inside and outside the Cathedral.
Pope Francis appointed Labajo, who is also now the Titular Bishop of Abbir Maius, as Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu last June 23.
With Labajo’s appointment, the Archdiocese of Cebu now has two auxiliary bishops, including Most Rev. Midyphil ‘Dodong’ Billones, who was appointed auxiliary bishop of Cebu in 2019.
As auxiliary bishops, Labajo and Billones assist Cebu Archbishop Palma in running the Cebu Archdiocese, which according to CBCP News is “the largest archdiocese in the country and in Asia, having the most number of Catholics, priests, religious and seminarians.”
In his homily, Most Rev. Dennis Villarojo, Bishop of Malolos, who was also Labajo’s classmate in the seminary and batch mate in ordination, reminisced his pleasant memories of Labajo from their seminary days.
“Dear Monsigñor Ruben, when you asked me to help you formulate your motto and design your coat of arms, we walked together down memory lane to recall the days when we were still young seminarians-awkward, still struggling with our insecurities, unsure of the path we were taking. But you have shown out early as the life of the class,” he said.
He then gave Labajo some words of encouragement as the latter starts to fulfill the responsibilities of his new role in the Catholic Church.
“Today, Bishop Ruben, the Lord is sending you. He is sending you as a lamb among wolves. But perhaps by bridging the ruptures, you can reconcile lamb and wolf together,” Villarojo said.
“He asks you to bring peace to every home you visit, but perhaps you could also announce justice without which there could be no peace,” he added.
Labajo’s coat of arms
Villarojo, in his homily, also talked about Labajo’s coat of arms which he has helped design.
Villarojo said the bridge is a representation of the Adaja Bridge in Avila, Spain which is made famous by St. Teresa of Avila, the patron saint of Talisay Cebu, the hometown of Labajo.
The waves beneath the bridge recall the tumultuous sea where Mons. Ruben was shipwrecked between the main island of Cebu and his first parish in Sta. Fe, Bantayan.
It is also a fitting representation of the often difficult situations that separate people which Mons. Ruben desires to bridge, he said.
He furthered that the blue lines under the waves call to mind the blue accent on the fringe of the habits of the Missionaries of Charity, while the IHS on the upper left symbolizes the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Ordination and Assignments
Labajo, 55, was born in Poblacion, Talisay City to Bienvenido Labajo and Violeta Caballero.
He was ordained on June 10, 1994 at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Guadalupe, Cebu City.
He had his minor seminary studies at the Seminario Menor de San Carlos; took AB Philosophy and English at the San Carlos Seminary College, and had his Masters in Philosophy at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos.
As a young priest, Labajo became the parochial vicar of Mandaue City from 1995 until 1997. He was then assigned parish priest in Santa Fe, Cebu from 1997 until 2006 and vicar forane of the Vicariate of Sts. Peter and Paul from 2001 until 2007.
He served as team moderator at Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Tabunok, Talisay City from December 2007 to 2014, before being assigned as moderator of a team of pastors at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral of San Vitalis.
Before his appointment as bishop, Labajo also serves as the moderator of the team of pastors at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Balamban, Cebu from August 6, 2019, until the present.
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