Archbishop-elect Julius Tonel of Zamboanga. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DIOCESE OF IPIL

By CBCP News

April 26, 2023

Manila, Philippines

Archbishop-elect Julius Tonel has vowed to listen to his flock as he forms vision for the southern Philippine archdiocese of Zamboanga.

A day after his appointment, the prelate was still in “disbelief” with his new ministry but he said “the mission must go on”.

The challenge, according to him, remains the same: how to bring the Gospel closer to the people in the best way possible.

“So I will do a lot of listening,” Tonel said, adding that it’s the best way he can have as a base to serve the people.

Taking a cue from the spirit of synodality, he said his ministry approach is to meet people where they are— in their life and in their discernment.

“I have to work with all of these and everything that I will do has to be rooted in the Gospel,” he added.

Pope Francis on April 25 appointed Tonel, until now the bishop of the Diocese of Ipil, as the new archbishop of Zamboanga.

He will replace the late Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz, who served the post from May 2014 until his death from illness in December 2021.

Auxiliary Bishop Moises Cuevas has been overseeing the archdiocese as apostolic administrator.

Addressing the clergy and the faithful on Tuesday evening, he asked them to pray for their new archbishop “as he begins his new ministry among us”.

“May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen him as he leads us on the path of faith and spiritual growth,” Cuevas said.

“And may God bless our new archbishop and our local Church of Zamboanga. May we continue to grow in faith, hope and love under his spiritual guidance,” he added.

Tonel, who is turning 67 on Aug. 31, has been the bishop of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province since 2007.

The archdiocese has yet to announce the date of Tonel’s canonical installation as Zamboanga archbishop.


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