Pope Francis appoints Filipino bishop in Philadelphia
MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis has appointed a Filipino bishop, among two others, for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reported on Saturday.
According to the CBCP, Bishop-elect Efren Esmilla, who was born in Nagcarlan, Laguna, was appointed on Friday, and is now the fourth Filipino bishop appointed in the United States (US).
He is now one of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s auxiliary bishops who will serve approximately 1.5 million Catholics, the CBCP noted.
The CBCP said Esmilla is with priests Keith Chylinski and Christopher Cooke. They will join Archbishop Nelson Perez and Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre, who have been serving there since 2010.
Quoting Esmilla, the CBCP in a press statement said that the bishop-elect was “greatly humbled and honored” for the appointment.
“I ask all of the clergy, men, and women religious, and lay faithful our beloved local Church to pray for me while knowing that I will pray for all of you so that I can see how to serve you best,” Esmilla said.
“My great hope is that our beloved Archdiocese of Philadelphia will continue to grow spiritually and to grow in the number of souls as we all strive to be better missionary disciples for Jesus Christ in the world around us,” he added.
According to the CBCP, Esmilla went to San Beda University and got his college degree in 1984. He took his priestly formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and earned a Master of Divinity in 1992.
In 1993, the CBCP said Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua ordained Esmilla to the priesthood for the Philadelphia archdiocese.
The CBCP said the bishop has also served as a parochial vicar at St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Philadelphia; assistant director of pastoral formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary; pastor of St. James in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; and chaplain to the Filipino Apostolate and the spiritual director to the Legion of Mary.
The 61-year-old bishop immigrated from the Philippines and is now residing in the US, the CBCP noted.
Meanwhile, in the same press statement, the CBCP quoted Archbishop Perez, who said the new bishops “are men of deep faith, great humility, broad pastoral as well as administrative experience, and zealous hearts that on fire to serve as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.” “I’ve known all of them for many years and have witnessed the transformational impact of their priestly ministry on a diverse array of people everywhere they have served,” Perez said. The CBCP noted that other bishops appointed in the US are Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City, Auxiliary Bishop Alejandro Aclan of Los Angeles, and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Celino of El Paso-Texas.