Friday, January 13, 2017

Salt Lake City (finally) has a bishop

My diocese, the Diocese of Salt Lake City, which comprises the entire state of Utah, had been sede vacante (i.e., "a vacant seat"), that is, a diocese without a bishop, since April 2015 when Pope Francis named our former bishop, John Wester, the archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico. This 21 month vacancy was the longest in the history of our local church.

On Tuesday, 10 January 2017, His Excellency, Bishop Oscar Solis, was named by Pope Francis as the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Bishop Solis was the first Filipino to be ordained a bishop for service in the United States of America. His ordination as bishop was the first episcopal ordination that took place in Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Bishop Oscar Solis, tenth Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City

Bishop Solis was born and raised in the Philippines. He attended seminary and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cabanatuan in the Philippines in 1979. In 1984 he went to Rome to study canon law. He returned to the Philippines where he served in several different capacities. He did not come to United States until he was in his late 30s. He served several years in New Jersey and then in Louisiana prior to being named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2003 at age 50. He was ordained in 2004. Prior to being named ordinary of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, he was serving as the head of the San Pedro pastoral region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. You can read more about him and the circumstances of his appointment to Salt Lake City here.

I now have a pastor, Fr. René as we call him, and a bishop from the Philippines, which is wonderful. This came together nicely for me after talking to my pastor and reading about his introduction to our new bishop at last Tuesday's press conference in The Salt Lake Tribune:
As the questions wrapped up, the Rev. Reynato Rodillas, Filipino priest at St. Olaf Parish in Bountiful, addressed the incoming bishop in their common language [Tagalog]. Solis' face lit up with delight as he rushed to embrace the man. The pair conversed for a few minutes, and the Solis interpreted for the group, 'He said, "Watch out."

"Now," he said, "I now where to go to eat rice"
I hope our new bishop comes to St. Olaf Parish often to break bread and eat rice. From one of your deacons, Welcome Bishop Solis! I am pretty sure I can speak for many members of our diocesan clergy when I say, "We've been waiting for you." I am confident the Lord has chosen the best person to lead His flock in Utah.

Bishop Solis will be installed as tenth bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City on 7 March 2017 in The Cathedral of the Madeleine, where I joyfully served for many years.

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