Filipino priest ordained bishop of Saipan

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SAIPAN, Aug. 25, 2016 — A priest from Larena, Siquijor in Central Philippines was ordained Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, the new bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in Saipan.

Bishop Ryan Jimenez, 44, became the second bishop of Chalan Kanoa and filled a six-year vacancy, following the retirement of his predecessor, Bishop Emeritus Tomas Camacho.

Newly ordained bishop Ryan Jimenez sits in the Cathedral after being installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in the Northern Marianas, Aug. 14, 2016. (Photo: Judy Paltrow)

Archbishop Savio Tai-Fai Hon, SDB, Secretary of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples and the Apostolic Administrator of Archdiocese of Agaña in Guam, officiated the three-hour ceremony Sunday, held at the jam-packed Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Chalan Kanoa.

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes and Camacho were the two other co-ordaining prelates at the episcopal ordination and installation of Jimenez to the Order of Bishops.

Guided by the Holy Spirit

Sunday’s ordination was centered on the Feast of the Assumption, which Hon’s homily focused on and where he shared some of his reflections to Jimenez.

“This is the proclamation of your new obligation to the community. What’s important is for you to guide the community under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” said Hon, who focused on Mary’s words when she visited her cousin, Elizabeth.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant”, was what Mary had said to her cousin, Hon pointed out.

Hon asked the people of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa to pray for their new bishop and support him so he would be effective in fulfilling his duties.

Meanwhile, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who flew to Saipan Bishop Cortes, read the congratulatory message of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines warmly congratulates you on your sacred ordination and canonical possession as Bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa. We also share in the great joy of your family and the faithful from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) which you have already served for the past six years”, said Villegas in his letter.

‘Missionary call’

“Your coming from Siquijor Province in the Diocese of Dumaguete is another testimony and meaningful witness to us of the missionary call of the Philippine Church”, added the prelate.

The CBCP president also welcomed Jimenez “into our episcopal fraternity in the Lord”, assuring him of the Philippine bishops’ “closeness with you as you start your episcopal ministry”.

Villegas’ congratulatory letter further reads: “With the grace of God, may the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa be abundantly blessed with your apostolic leadership. May your diocese be a home where the faithful could witness and encounter the unstrained mercy and love of Christ, greather than which, there is no other”.

For his part, Cortes said it was a great privilege given him by Jimenez to be a co-ordaining bishop for his episcopal ordination.

“Of course, this was his way of acknowledging his diocese of origin, which was admirable of him”, explained Cortes.

Cortes went on to say: “Collectively, what a tremendous favor the Lord has shown upon the Island of Siquijor and the Diocese of Dumaguete that He has chosen one of our own to be a pastoral leader in the Northern Marianas Islands. This great blessing is an affirmation of the Christian faith of our people that indeed it has borne fruit and is now at the service of the Universal Church”.
‘One for the books’
“That indeed, by God’s abiding grace, we Filipinos are responding to the call we have received from Pope John Paul II in “Ecclesia in Asia”, that we have a missionary responsibility to spread the Christian faith to the rest of Asia.”

Cortes said that the liturgical ceremonies for the Episcopal Ordination and Canonical Possession of Bishop Ryan Jimenez as the 2nd Bishop of Chalan Kanoa “meaningfully allowed expression of communion between the Philippine Church and the Church of the Marianas Islands” by the attendance of two bishops from the Philippines and the reading of the CBCP president’s congratulatory letter by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

Also, Cortes extended his gratitude for the very warm welcome accorded the Dumaguete delegation by Jimenez and the Organizing Committee which “was one for the books and truly appreciated by all”.

A priest for only 12 years, Jimenez hails from Larena, Siquijor and had studied at the then St. Joseph Seminary High School (now the St. Joseph Seminary College) in Sibulan, Negros Oriental, run by the Diocese of Dumaguete, prior to attending college at another seminary and onwards. (Judy Flores-Partlow/CBCPNews) 

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