On Tuesday the Vatican announced the appointment of Filipino-born Bishop Oscar A. Solis, currently an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as the new head of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
Bishop Solis, 63, will fill a more than 20-month vacancy in Salt Lake
City, after the previous bishop, John Charles Wester, was tapped to
lead the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M. in April 2015.
In an interview with L.A. diocesan newspaper Angelus News, Solis
called his new role as the 10th bishop of Salt Lake City “a recognition
of the diversity of the Church in America and the universality of the
“I know what it means to be a pastor, a shepherd of a particular
diocese,” he said. “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.”
In 2003, Bishop Solis became the first Filipino to be appointed a bishop
in the United States when he was named as an auxiliary to the
Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope St. John Paul II. He will now be the
first Filipino to head a U.S. diocese.
In a statement on the appointment, Los Angeles Archbishop José H.
Gomez said “our loss will be a gift to the family of God in Salt Lake
“I know that Bishop Solis will be for them a model of prayer and
compassion and a great bishop. And I fully expect that he will become
the leading voice for the millions of Filipino Catholics in this
country, who are a beautiful sign of growth and renewal in our Church
and in our country.”
Bishop Solis was born in San Jose City in the Philippines Oct. 13,
1953. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cabanatuan April 28,
From 1979-1984 he held significant positions within the diocese,
including serving as rector of the diocesan high school and college
seminary, the vocations director, a professor, and on the diocesan
He was sent to Rome in 1984 to pursue doctoral studies in Canon Law.
He also took time to visit family in the U.S. where he carried out some
pastoral work, which led him to discern a new direction in his vocation.
“I fell in love with parish life,” Solis said in the interview. “I never did parish work in the Philippines.”
“That’s the mystery of God’s grace,” he said. “Just be open and be
ready for surprises because our God is a God of surprises. Just like
Moving to the U.S. in 1984, he served as parochial vicar of a parish
in Union City, N. J. and later in parishes in Louisiana. In 1992, with
permission from the Ordinary of his diocese in the Philippines, he was
incardinated in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana.
He served there until 2003, when he was appointed Titular Bishop of
Urci and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. As Bishop,
he served as Episcopal Vicar for Ethnic Ministry from 2004-2009.
Since 2009, he has been Episcopal Vicar of the San Pedro Pastoral
Region within the Archdiocese of L.A., and also served on the USCCB
Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs, first as chairman and
later as a member. He speaks English, Tagalog and Spanish.
“I will miss friends and priests and L.A.,” Bishop Solis told Angelus
News, “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.”
Archbishop Gomez said that he could not be happier for Bishop Solis. “He is a fine priest and a good bishop.”
“I have relied on his good advice and pastoral judgment, and I am
inspired by his love and dedication to the people of the San Pedro
Pastoral Region and the whole family of God here in the Archdiocese of
Los Angeles. We are all going to miss him greatly.”