New Virac bishop ordained to episcopate

New Virac bishop ordained to episcopate

Bishop Luisito Occiano imparts his blessing to the faithful after his episcopal ordination at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Minor Basilica in Naga City on June 21, 2024. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

June 21, 2024

Naga City

A new bishop was ordained Friday in the “pilgrim city” of Naga, vowing to promote “a spirit of love, hope and joy” in his new ministry.

At 53, Bishop Luisito Occiano is one of the youngest bishops in the Philippines. He was consecrated to the episcopate before more than 2,000 people who filled Our Lady of Peñafrancia Minor Basilica.

Inspired by his episcopal motto “To Proclaim with Joy,” the new bishop said he will strive to be an instrument of God’s grace, love and compassion to his community.

“As God opens this door of episcopacy to me, I will strive to become the door to others through my mission,” Occiano said. “Indeed, this calls for total and unselfish service, which I will strive to fulfill. “

“Together we will work to uplift the marginalized, nurture the faith, and build a community that reflects the light and love of Christ. In all my actions, my words, and my hearts,” he said.

Occiano said he understands that being a bishop “is not a position of authority” but “a mission, a call to shepherd, to guide and proclaim the goodness of Christ with unwavering faith and boundless joy”.

“I will strive to be the shepherd you deserve,” he added.

The ordination was led by Archbishop Emeritus Rolando Tria Tirana of Caceres, with his successor Archbishop Rex Andrew Alarcon and Archbishop Tito Yllana, apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus, as co-consecrators.

In his homily, Alarcon emphasized that to be a bishop is a calling to serve God’s family.

“This is not a very easy task and may not be very pleasant. May we not forget this. May we not forget that this is a mission rather than promotion. It is a call to serve rather than be served,” he said.

Around 15 other bishops attended, including papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, CBCP vice president Bishop Milo Hubert Vergara of Pasig, and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Pham of the US Diocese of San Diego.

The ordination took place nearly four months after Pope Francis appointed Occiano as the new bishop of Virac.

He will formally take possession of Virac diocese on June 26, succeeding Bishop Emeritus Manolo de los Santos who was also present at his ordination.

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