TUGUEGARAO CITY — Pope Francis appointed Fr. Danilo Ulep as the new bishop-prelate of the Prelature of Batanes, a group of islands located at the northernmost tip of Philippine territory.
The 54-year old priest from the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao will succeed Bishop Emeritus Camilo Gregorio, 77, who retired after serving the prelature for almost 14 years.
The bishop-elect, who just assumed as rector of the Tuguegarao Cathedral this week, will be the fifth bishop of the 67-year old prelature.
Reacting to his appointment, Ulep said it was “surprising”, but also “humbling”.
“This will be the first time that I will be uprooted in my native place because I’ve been here in Cagayan since birth. This is what they say you have to leave everything and everyone behind literally,” he said.
“I didn’t realized that God has other plans for me,” Ulep said. “It’s a challenge that God has given me… a new mission that I’m going to embark on this time around with a bigger responsibility.”
Ulep said he would be sad to leave the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao but was “looking forward” about going to Batanes with only about 20,000 Catholics from six parishes.
The bishop-elect revealed that he had just visited the place for the first time late last year for a four-day vacation together with some other priests of the archdiocese.
“The good thing is we were able to visit all the parishes there. I didn’t have any idea that I will have to go back there. God’s ways are really not our ways,” Ulep said.
“I’m very positive that I will go to a place where the people love their priests and their Church. I’m eagerly looking forward to going there and be with them,” he added.
A priest for 30 years, Ulep had been to at least six assignments, including five parishes and a minor seminary where he served as rector.
At present, he is also the director of the archdiocese’s biblical apostolate and president of the priests’ assembly.Ulep was born in 1962 and educated at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila, the same school where he earned his degree in canon law and a licentiate in philosophy. PR/PNA