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A historic religious event full of color, pomp and ceremony took place at the Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral in Cabanatuan City on January 25, 2005.

On that day, the Most Rev. Sofronio A. Bancud, S.S.S., D.D. was formally installed as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Cabanatuan.

Officiating at the Rite of Reception -- when the bishop-elect is presented to the clergy and the lay faithful -- was Archbishop Antonio M. Franco, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.

The site of the event is the equally historic Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral, the official seat of the Cabanatuan Bishop.

Inside, government officials, lay leaders, and the faithful await the start of the rites.

The procession enters the cathedral, joined by priests and monsignori from the various parishes comprising the diocese...

... members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines...

... and at the end, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal , the bishop-elect and Papal Nuncio Antonio M. Franco.

The Papal Nuncio starts the ceremonies by offering incense at the altar.

He then calls for the apostolic letter designating the Most Rev. Bancud as Cabanatuan bishop.

Rev. Msgr. Michael Alexander E. Balaria shows the apostolic letter to the congregation...

... then reads the document in its Latin original...

... while the bishop-elect intently listens...

... together with Cardinal Vidal...

... other bishops...

... the diocesan clergy and the faithful... 

... and local government officials...

... led by Cabanatuan City Mayor Julius Cesar V. Vergara and Nueva Ecija Gov. Tomas N. Joson III.

The Papal Nuncio approaches and embraces the new bishop...

... and guides him towards the cathedra where he sits and receives his crozier.

Bishop Bancud is greeted by his bishop-peers led by Cardinal Vidal...

... and receives homage from the monsignori of the Diocese...

... followed by the rest of the clergy...

... representatives of religious congregations for women...

... seminarians...

... and leaders of lay organizations.

Finally, the new bishop presides over the Holy Mass.
Digital photos by Ramon R. Valmonte
January 2005