Cosme Almedilla: The farmer boy who became a Catholic bishop

By RJS

Butuan Bishop Cosme Almedilla

The father would remind the boy to take the carabao to the wallow (tunaan), the shaded muddy area when the heat of the sun becomes too intense. In Visayan “tunaan” or “tugwayan” signifies to cool off the beast of burden because after all it’s a water buffalo and it’s the master’s way of thank you to the animal for being hardworking and uncomplaining.

The boy too would take time to help the family in the field and other daily chores. Born and raised to farmer parents and grew up in a small rural village in San Miguel, an interior town west of Bohol province. The boy’s name is Cosme Almedilla and he loves working in the farm.

When it was time for college, a kind benefactor came and helped his schooling where he landed in a seminary and became a priest and handled parishes and became a Catholic school director.

“As a child I did not wish or thought I would like to become a priest but in our balay-balay (child’s play) I always ended up or designated as priest. Who would have thought I would become one,” he told his close friend Quita Reyes, an active  community volunteer of Ubay, Bohol, where he served as parish priest prior to his installation as the third bishop of the Diocese of Butuan.

Reyes gave this writer a glimpse of Bishop Ming’s character as he is fondly called.

“When you visit him at the convent, he would personally serve you food, not depending on house-help but he do it himself, serving coffee and all. He is so humble.”

This is the son of god with no grand illusions of himself and status of life.

Reyes also reveals he told her earlier he had no aspiration to a higher position but was simply contented leading an ordinary meaningful life with the communities he served.

That was perhaps why he was the most surprised after Pope Francis named him as the new bishop of Butuan in March, 2019. But there was no stopping, he heartily accepted and followed the call.

To most people who gathered and witnessed Almedilla’s installation at St. Joseph Cathedral led by Apostolic Nuncio Gabriele Giordano Caccia, along with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma in ceremonies attended by 28 bishops and 200 priests on Tuesday (June 25), it was inspiring to see and hear a down-to-earth servant of God.

“We are so blessed to have him as our shepherd,” says an elderly man standing outside the church who came to welcome him.

“Isn’t it cool? He sings along with the choir as he conducts mass, so old-fashioned but reflects he’s admirably focused and gracefully loving it,” observed young people watching the ceremony on the screen.

Mabuhay, padayon ug salamat, Bishop Ming.

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