Pope Francis appoints new archbishop for the Archdiocese of Zamboanga  

His Holiness Pope Francis named Bishop Julius Tonel of Ipil as the new archbishop of Zamboanga on Tuesday, April 25.

Bishop Tonel, 66, will succeed the late Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz, who passed away on December 10, 2021, at the age of 74 due to an illness. Since then, the archdiocese has been administered by the apostolic administrator, Auxiliary Bishop Moises Cuevas of Zamboanga.

He studied Philosophy at the San Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary of Mindanao (SFX-REMASE) and Theology at the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary in Manila. He was born in Davao City on August 31, 1956.

On April 12, 1980, Tonel was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Davao, where he served as its Vicar General and Rector of SFX-REMASE.

Additionally, the archbishop-elect possesses a licentiate in liturgical theology from the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Liturgy in Rome.

On June 30, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as prelate of the then-Prelature of Ipil. He was consecrated bishop on August 20 of the same year.

On May 1, 2010, when the prelature was elevated to a diocese, Tonel became its first bishop.

Zamboanga is one of the country’s sixteen archdioceses and one of Mindanao’s four, along with Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Cotabato. In 1910, Zamboanga separated from Cebu and became the mother diocese of the Southern Philippines Catholic Church. In addition, the archdiocese has the Diocese of Ipil, the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo, and the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan as its suffragans.

Archbishop-elect Julius Tonel pledges to listen to his congregation as he designs the southern Philippine archdiocese of Zamboanga.

Bishop Tonel stated that he was still in “disbelief” about his new ministry, but that “the mission must go on.” He stated that the issue remains how to most effectively disseminate the Gospel.

“Therefore, I will engage in a great deal of listening,” Bishop Tonel remarked. It is my greatest platform for serving the public. He meets individuals where they are in life and discernment, in accordance with synodality.

Bishop Tonel stated, “I must work with all of these, and everything I do must be rooted in the Gospel.” (Angelo Luis Sta. Maria/Volunteer Writer/San Felipe Neri Parish | Photo from CBCP News)



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