THE FIRST Filipino created cardinal by Pope Francis is a Thomasian.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, along with 18 others from 12 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America, were named to the College of Cardinals last Feb. 22.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), commended Quevedo’s passion in forming basic ecclesial communities in different areas in Mindanao.

“He is an intellectual giant with a very simple lifestyle and very warm fraternal manners. He is a blessing for the Church,” Villegas said in a CBCP press release.

Villegas added that Quevedo’s elevation to the rank of cardinal would strengthen the Catholic faith in Mindanao.

“As a member of the College of Cardinals, he will be able to assist the Pope in reaching out to the marginalized in Mindanao,” he said. “It is a proof that the Catholic faith in Mindanao is now bearing rich fruits and Cardinal Quevedo is its living testimony.”

Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, archbishop of Manila, thanked the Holy See for honoring Quevedo, citing the Cotabato prelate’s humble pastoral service.

“The Church of the Philippines and Asia has been greatly blessed these past decades by the service and leadership of Archbishop Quevedo. This blessing extends to the whole Church,” Tagle said in a statement released through CBCP News.

Tagle, created cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, said the collaboration and friendship he had formed with Quevedo for the past 30 years would continue in the College of Cardinals, the pope’s closest advisers.

Aside from their important role in electing the next pope, Pope Francis wants the new cardinals to focus on serving the needs of the Universal Church.

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“The cardinalate does not signify a promotion, an honor, or a decoration. It is simply a service that calls for enlarging one’s vision and widening one’s heart,” the Pope said in a letter addressed to the newly elected cardinals.

Peace-building in Mindanao

As archbishop of Cotabato, Quevedo was known for peace-building in Mindanao.

Quevedo said he would continue to promote interreligious dialogue and peace in Southern Philippines.

“I pray that I can contribute to the good of the people here in Mindanao, to the peace and dialogue being undertaken by the people of various faiths in Mindanao, especially with the Bangsamoro,” Quevedo said over Radio Veritas.

Among the bishops in the Philippines, Quevedo is one of the most involved in Bangsamoro peace process.

He has been active in initiating peace talks through the Bishop-Ulama Conference of the Philippines, which he founded along with former Lanao del Sur Governor Mahid Mutilan. The conference supports peace dialogues between Muslims and Christians.

A week after news of his appointment as cardinal broke last Jan. 12, Quevedo called for the passage of a law that would protect internally displaced people or those forced to leave their homes as a result of armed conflict and natural disasters.

The “Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act of 2013” was rejected by President Benigno Aquino III last year.

Taking into account 40 years of conflict and violence in Mindanao, Quevedo stressed the importance of the law in ensuring the safety of the growing number of displaced persons.

Call for vocation

Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, O.P., rector of the Central Seminary, said Quevedo’s election could be a source of inspiration for Thomasians to share in the mission of the Church to take an active role in society.

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“UST is very grateful, not because he is from UST, but because he can contribute a lot to the Church of Mindanao,” Pedregosa said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

Quevedo took his postgraduate studies in Educational Management in the University.

Quevedo is the third cardinal from UST, following Cardinal Jose Sanchez who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1991, and Cardinal Zeferino Gonzalez, the Spanish Dominican theologian, in 1884.

Quevedo, a native of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, started as an altar server in a parish church in South Cotabato and as a newsboy of the Mindanao Cross, the weekly newspaper of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

After high school, he entered San Jose Seminary in Quezon City where he studied Philosophy. He then entered the St. Peter’s Novitiate in Mission, Texas, where he stayed from 1956 to 1957.

In 1964, he completed his Master’s in Religious Education from the Oblate College (Catholic University of America), Washington, DC.

Quevedo was ordained on June 5, 1964 under the Oblates. He became bishop of Kidapawan in 1980.

He was appointed archbishop of Nueva Segovia on March 22, 1986, then archbishop of Cotabato on May 30, 1998.

Quevedo became president of CBCP from 1999 to 2003. Thereafter, he served as president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference from 2005 to 2011.

He was also a member of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1999 to 2001 and General Council for the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome from 1994-2000. Angeli Mae S. Cantillana and April Joy E. Dy

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