Fil-Am bishop joins Calungsod musical


LOS ANGELES—First, he made history as the first Filipino to become bishop in the United States. Now, he scores another first—this time as the first Catholic bishop in America to perform in a theater musical.

Oscar Solis and members of the Filipino Priests of Los Angeles—also the first group of priests to perform on stage—have joined the cast of “Fides Ecclesiae (Faith of the Church),” a musical about the lives of Pedro Calungsod, a newly canonized Filipino saint, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint.

“Bishop Solis is the first member of the (US) Conference of Catholic Bishops to sing on stage,” said Fr. Robert Victoria, who wrote the script.

“Fides Ecclesiae” is also the first Filipino production, as well as the first musical about the Catholic faith, to be staged at the Pantages Theater, a famous Los Angeles landmark known as the go-to venue for blockbuster Broadway entertainment.

Victoria said the musical was not only historic but had also been marked by so many “miracles,” which were attributed to Saints Calungsod and Kateri—the two youngest among the seven saints canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican last October.

He cited the stories of a lupus-stricken cast member who experienced a miraculous recovery and the mother of a production crew member who was healed of cancer.

“The fact that we were able to get people from different nationalities—Filipinos, Chamorros, Chinese and Americans—to come together and volunteer their time, talent and resources and make this happen is also a miracle,” Victoria said.

Greater mission

Many of those who watched the show’s first run at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center last December have sent testimonials about experiencing a deepening of faith—an impact the Filipino Priests of Los Angeles had hoped to achieve when they conceptualized the musical.

“Our main purpose is to evangelize,” Victoria said. “We hope that the lives of two simple, young saints inspire people, especially the youth.”

St. Calungsod was 17 years old when he was persecuted and eventually murdered while serving and evangelizing the Chamorro natives in Guam in 1672. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and became the second Filipino saint when he was canonized on Oct. 21 last year.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived 300 years ago in present-day New York, was orphaned at age 4 after her parents and brother succumbed to smallpox.

Ostracized by her tribe and ridiculed for her beliefs as a Catholic convert, she held on to her faith. Her devotion to Christianity and sacrifices were so inspirational that her legacy survived for generations after she died at the young age of 24.

“These two saints showed great love for God and for the salvation of souls,” Victoria said. “They are the new models of faith for the young generation of our time.”

Ruben Cuatrona Jr., a 17-year-old high school senior with powerful pipes, plays the role of St. Calungsod. Alexandra Ramos, a coloratura soprano, plays St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

Fr. Victoria said the musical also sought to promote vocations for the priesthood and religious life and raise funds for St. John Seminary, which had trained hundreds of priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and other dioceses across Southern California.

The musical is produced by The Filipino Priests of Los Angeles, Lay Volunteers of LA and the Chamorro Group of LA.

“This musical has brought us together to help propagate the faith,” said the show’s director, Vic Perez. “All of us who volunteered to be part of the production crew and the cast feel that this play is really blessed by God.”


The musical will be shown on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. For more information, go to

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  • marie

    heard father oscar solis do the homily. he is not boring not unlike mga bishop dyan sa atin.

    • kanoy


      A good reason for the packed agenda, the warm welcome and his newfound celebrity status. With his ordination as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles last February 10, Oscar Azarcon Solis became the first Philippine-born bishop in the United States. Many Filipinos and Filipino-Americans have taken his ordination to the episcopacy as a sign of the growing importance of Filipinos in the life of the Catholic Church in the US. Bishop Solis himself prefers to downplay his Filipino identity, preferring to see his appointment as recognition by the hierarchy of the increasing role of Asian-Americans in the Catholic community

      To his family, the new appointment means adjusting to his newfound status and celebrity, though it doesn’t seem to have altered in any way their own relationship to him. Requested by photographers at the airport to kiss the bishop’s hand upon his arrival, his sister Celia Tapia, the eldest in the family, replied indignantly: “I’m older than him, I shouldn’t be kissing his hand!”

  • kanoy

     happy 107th philippine independence day!

    so much in store today, like the independence day mass at the cathedral (our lady of the angels) where cardinal roger mahoney and the first filipino bishop in the us of a, bishop oscar solis

     Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who retired less than two years ago as the leader of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, was removed from all public duties by his successor, Archbishop José H. Gomez, as the church complied with a court order to release thousands of pages of internal documents that show how the cardinal shielded priests who sexually abused children.

     The documents, released as part of a record $660 million settlement in 2007 with the victims of abuse, are the strongest evidence so far that top officials for years purposely tried to conceal abuse from law enforcement officials. The files, which go from the 1940s to the present, are the latest in a series of revelations that suggest that the church continued to maneuver against law enforcement even after the extent of the abuse crisis emerged.

    Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, who was the vicar for clergy and one of the cardinal’s top deputies and his adviser on sexual abuse, also stepped down as the regional bishop for Santa Barbara, Calif.

  • Platypus09

    If this is another way of propagating and strengthening Catholic faith and ministry, this is great.

    I applaud.

  • Edgardo Mendoza


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