by Jared Bray, ABS-CBN News
SALT LAKE CITY — After waiting two years for a new bishop, Utah Catholics finally got one: Filipino-American Oscar Solis.
Solis took the bishop’s throne at the Cathedral of the Madeleine Tuesday afternoon, completing his official installation as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.
During his sermon, he spoke with a cheerful tone and emphasized a spirit of inclusion.
“We come from different places. We speak different languages. We have different cultural backgrounds. Each of us has a different story and a different history,” Solis said.
More than a thousand people packed into the pews to witness the historic event, filling the cathedral to capacity.
Solis urged his supporters to not set their expectations too high.
“Please, may I remind you of my name. It is Oscar Solis, not Jesus Christ,” he said.
Joining the many Catholics in attendance were Utah civic leaders and representatives of different faiths.
Filipinos from around the world also made the trip, including members of Solis’s family.
“I hope the people of Utah will love his humor, and share with him his laughter, his joys and sorrows,” Celia Tapia, his sister, said.
Solis is the first Filipino Bishop to lead an archdiocese in the United States.
The 63-year-old Nueva Ecija native comes to Salt Lake from Los Angeles and inherits a flock of about 300,000 Utah Catholics.
Many Filipino Catholics are proud to have one of their own leading the church in Utah and believe Solis is the right man for the job.
“Because he’s very loving, he’s holy and he loves people as Christ loves his flocks,” Filipino Catholic Luz Ranin-Martin said.
On March 17, the Filipino-Catholic community, Misang Bayan, will hold a special welcome mass and reception for Solis in Salt Lake City. Organizers hope to include kababayans from across the state and different religions.