Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Solis becomes the first Filipino to lead a diocese in the United States after Pope Francis named him as the bishop of Salt Lake City.
In an interview with Angelus News, Bishop Solis recalled that it was on January 10 when the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, shared the good news with him via telephone.
Bishop Solis spoke of the appointment as “a recognition of the diversity of the Church in America and the universality of the Church.”
“I know what it means to be a pastor, a shepherd of a particular diocese. It is a tremendous blessing and a responsibility and a privilege to be of service to the local Church in the United States of America, coming from the Philippines,” he added.
He said he would miss friends and priests in Los Angeles where he is currently based, quickly adding, “But I know God has something in store for us when he leads us to a new place. I have wonderful priests in Utah and wonderful people. I know we won’t go wrong if we work together as a church, as a community. God will provide the rest,” he said.
After his installation in March, he will be serving a diocese of 300,000 Catholics that spans the entire state of Utah.
Bishop Solis, 63, a native of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, is used to being uprooted. He was ordained priest by Bishop Vicente Reyes in 1979. He was assigned influential roles in the Cabanatuan Diocese from the beginning of his priestly life. He served as rector of the diocesan high school and college seminary, the vocation director, a professor, and the priests council.
In 1984, he was sent to Rome to pursue doctoral studies in Canon Law. He visited his family in the United States along the way and spent some time in pastoral work. He then served for four years as pastor of St. Rocco Church in New Jersey, a parish with a large Italian and Cuban immigrant population. He then served various parishes in the Louisiana Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, including pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Golden Meadow and pastor of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and St. Luke Church in Thibodaux.
Bishop Solis was also the first Filipino to be named bishop in the United States when Pope John Paul 2nd announced his appointment as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles back in 2003. He served a variety of roles, including as vicar for Ethnic Ministry from his ordination in 2004 until 2009. He also served as the director of the Office of Justice and Peace from 2005 to 2009. Then, in 2009, he was assigned to the San Pedro Pastoral Region, where he serves today.
According to him, there is always a reason when God puts him in a new place. He said that his episcopal motto, “Fiat voluntas tua” or “Your will be done,” from the Lord’s Prayer, has guided him through his entire priesthood.