1st Filipino American bishop ordained in US to serve in Utah

By on March 6, 2017


Solis, 63, previously served in New Jersey and Louisiana before becoming an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles.  (Photo Padre-Omar Ontiveros/ Facebook)
Solis, 63, previously served in New Jersey and Louisiana before becoming an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles. (Photo Padre-Omar Ontiveros/ Facebook)

SALT LAKE CITY –The first Filipino-American bishop ordained in the United States is set to be installed as the leader of Salt Lake City’s Catholic diocese on Tuesday, ending the city’s longest period without a bishop.

Bishop Oscar Azarcon Solis will replace John C. Wester, who was appointed archbishop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2015, the Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/2lwB1bb ) reported. Solis, who can move seamlessly from English to Spanish to Tagalog, was born in San Jose City in the Philippines and was ordained a priest in 1979.

Solis, 63, previously served in New Jersey and Louisiana before becoming an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles. Because he served in an Italian/Cuban parish in New Jersey, a French/Creole parish in Louisiana, and the polyglot parishes of Southern California, people often ask what kind of accent he has.

To that, Solis quips, “I can’t even understand myself now.”

The Rev. Alex Aclan, vicar for clergy at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said Solis was key in establishing the National Association of Filipino Priests-USA.

Solis is a “major ingredient in the glue that has bonded the Filipino priests together,” Aclan said.

The Los Angeles bishops gifted Solis a parka, skis and an Apple watch ahead of his move to Utah.

In his most recent position, Solis visited some 200 churches. People who know Solis say he is caring and even-tempered.

When worshippers showed up at the office looking for help or someone to talk to, Solis “would take the time to listen to them … (and) give them food from his pantry and give them money,” said Angelic Nunez, his assistant.

Solis’s official installation will take place at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.