Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Geolina Valles will be installed as the new Archbishop of Davao on Tuesday, May 22, the fourth archbishop in the nearly 42-year old Archdiocese of  Davao.

Valles was named Arcbishop of Davao by Pope Benedict XVI on February 12, vice Arcbhishop Fernando Capalla who has retired.

Capalla told MindaNews last Friday that at least 60 bishops nationwide are attending the installation rites at the San Pedro Cathedral. Capalla said President Aquino is sending Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacerda. The three Aquino sisters will also be present, he said.

Arcbhishop Giuseppe Pinto, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), are also attending.

Valles returns to the Archdiocese where he studied for priesthood.

Born in Maribojoc, Bohol, Valles,  who is turning 61 on July 10, graduated valedictorian at the Maryknoll High School in Lupon, Davao Oriental in 1968. He took up his Philosophy and Theology at the St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary in Davao City, where he again topped his class.

Ordained priest in the Diocese of  Tagum on April 6, 1976, Valles was named Bishop of Kidapawan on June 24, 1997 and Archbishop of Zamboanga on November 13, 2006.

Capalla, also convenor of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, celebrated his 75th birthday on November 1, 2009  but he continued serving as Archbishop pending the appointment of   his successor. Bishops retire at the age of 75.

Capalla was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Davao on June 28, 1994 and, upon the retirement of Archbishop Antonio Ll. Mabutas, was installed as the third Archbishop of Davao on November 28, 1996.

According to the website of the Daditama (Davao, Digos, Tagum and Mati),  three missionary groups spread the faith in Davao in the 1800s. “First, the Recollect Fathers in 1848; they stayed until 1858. The following years saw the Jesuits step into the lush forests of Davao. Then, in 1937, upon the request of the Bishop of Zamboanga, the Priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Quebec (PME Fathers) came to Davao,” it said.

The PME Fathers were entrusted with the spiritual care of the faithful in the areas included within the limits of Davao City and the present three provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental.

The Holy See raised the Davao Mission to the rank of Prelature Nullius on December 7, 1949 with Thibault as its first Prelate Ordinary. He was installed on June 24, 1950.

The CBCP website said the Prelature was elevated into a Diocese on July 11, 1966, and an archdiocese on June 29, 1970.

Thibault, the Bishop of Davao when it was still a diocese, was named its first Arcbhishop. He retired on December 9, 1972 and was succeeded by then Coadjutor Archbishop Antonio Mabutas.

Capalla, appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Davao on 28 June 1994, assumed the post vacated by Mabutas on November 28, 1996.

Capalla will be residing in a house near the Regional Major Seminary. But he told parishioners he will continue to serve in the Bishops-Ulama Conference, the national SOS Children’s Villages, the coconut farmers nationwide and help promote peace and interfaith dialogue around Asia for the Asian Bishops Conference. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)