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New CBCP President a Bacuaganon

The new president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference is again a Mindanawon: Bishop Nereo Odchimar of the Archdiocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur.

Odchimar, 68, a canon lawyer and presently CBCP vice president, won the votes of 86 out of 88 bishops present at the 99th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila Saturday, cbcpnewsonline reported.

Palo Archbishop Jose Palma, 59, will succeed Odchimar as vice president.

The term of office of the new officers begins in December 2009.

Odchimar will take over from Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo who served two terms as President, from 2005 to 2007 and 2007 to 2009, Lagdameo, on the other hand took over from Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, who served from 2003 to 2005. Capalla succeeded Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, who served two terms, from 1999 to 2003.

According to the CBCP’s website, Odchimar was born on October 16, 1940 in Bacuag, Surigao del Norte. He completed his Philosophy studies at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, Leyte, and Theology at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati City and was ordained to the priesthood on December 19, 1964.

Odchimar was member of the clergy of the Diocese of Surigao from 1965 to 1977, and served in the parishes of San Agustin, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur; San Nicolas de Tolentino in Mainit and Sts. Peter and Paul in Tubud, Surigao del Norte; and St. Vincent de Paul in Mangagoy, Bislig, Surigao del Sur.

He pursued further studies at the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary, where he obtained his Bachelors degree in Canon Law, magna cum laude (1982) and Doctorate in Canon Law, magna cum laude (1983). He also completed masteral studies in Business Administration at the De la Salle University in Manila.

In the Archbishop of Manila, he served in the parishes of Sto. Nino in Tondo, Most Holy Redeemer in Masambong, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, and San Roque Parish, Alabang, Muntinlupa.

At the time of his appointment as Bishop, he was parish priest of the Most Holy Redeemer parish in Quezon City, and Associate judge of the National Appellate matrimonial Tribunal and Judicial Vicar of the Metropolitan Matrimonial Tribunal of Cagayan de Oro.

As president of the CBCP, Odchimar will also chair its Permanent Council. The Council acts for and on behalf of the entire conference whenever the plenary assembly, which meets only twice a year, is not in session. The body may be convened by the CBCP president at any time.

The council is also mandated to work with the commissions and assign them functions of urgent character that were not taken up in the plenary.

One of the council’s main functions is to prepare joint statements or pastoral letters of the Catholic hierarchy on matters decided upon by the plenary assembly, provided that copies are sent to other members for comment and approval before they are officially released.

Odchimar and other members of the CBCP’s permanent council will start serving their terms in December 2009.

The president and the vice-president are elected for two-year terms and can serve for a minimum of two terms.

Elected to represent Mindanao in the Permanent Council are Zamboanga Arcbhishop Romulo Valles and Pagadian Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar.

In celebration of Earth Day (April 22) here this year, Odchimar joined a three-kilometer march into the municipality of Cantilan in Surigao del Sur, to condemn mining operations in the area.

Expressing his disappointment with the government, Bishop Odchimar said that he “felt betrayed upon learning that the Department Environment and Natural Resources had already issued Environmental Compliance Certificates to Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation and Carac-an Development Corporation (CDC) two months prior to having been assured of looking deeply into the watershed proclamation vis a vis mining in a dialogue with Sec. Lito Atienza." (MindaNews)

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