By Roy Lagarde

Bishop-elect Midyphil Billones of Iloilo. (SCREENSHOT/AQUIL BUENAFLOR YOUTUBE ACCOUNT)

Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Midyphil Billones, a priest from Iloilo, as auxiliary bishop of Cebu.

As auxiliary bishop, he will assist Archbishop Jose Palma in running the largest archdiocese in the country and in Asia, as Cebu has the most number of Catholics, priests, religious and seminarians.

Billones’ appointment, which assigns him to the Titular See of Tagarata, was made public on Tuesday by the Vatican.

His appointment also came two months after Palma’s lone auxiliary bishop, Dennis Villarojo, was named the new bishop of Malolos.

The bishop-elect is the rector of St. Joseph Regional Seminary in Iloilo City and head of the archdiocese’s Commission on the Laity.

Billones, who just turned 50 years old on July 4, is a native of Capiz province.

He took his philosophy studies at St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary in Iloilo City and theology at Loyola School of Theology in Manila, where he also obtained his master’s degree in theology.

Billones was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Jaro on Oct. 2, 1995. For two years after his ordination, he served as parochial vicar at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral.

From 1997 to 2001, the priest served as personal secretary, first to the late Archbishop Jover Piamonte and then to retired Archbishop Angel Lagdameo. He was also a member of the Presbyteral Council and head of the archdiocese’s Commission for Youth.

In 2011, he obtained his doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. Returning from his studies in Rome, he became vice chancellor and director of human formation at St. Joseph Regional Seminary in Jaro. He later became rector.