by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LOS ANGELES — A closing prayer, and a ski set — all part of a warm Los Angeles goodbye for Utah-bound Bishop Oscar A. Solis.
“I’m going to miss you big time,” said LA Archbishop Jose H. Gomez at Solis’ farewell Mass on Feb. 1, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. “So I may call you once in a while, and force you to come to Los Angeles.”
After 12 years of faithful service, the country’s only Filipino-American Bishop will leave the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for the Diocese of Salt Lake City in Utah — making him the first Filipino to head an American archdiocese.
“[I feel] nervousness and excitement, joy and sadness, the uncertainties and all those kinds of things,” Solis said. “I’ve been praying a lot, and prayers of the people are so affirming and supportive. I’m resigned and ready to go where God needs me.”
Born, raised, and ordained in Nueva Ecija, Bishop Solis has gone coast to coast in the US from New Jersey to Louisiana, and eventually Los Angeles, where he has spent the past 12 years serving in various ministries — including the Office of Ethnic Ministry and the San Pedro Pastoral Region.
“We’re called to serve God’s people wherever he wants us to go, wherever He leads us,” he says.
Solis leaves one of the largest and most diverse Catholic Archdiocese, with a huge Filipino population. He now goes to a region with less Filipinos, and is predominantly Mormon.
“I’m not nervous about it. As Mother Teresa said, wherever you go, God is there already before I am there,” he says. “I’m confident the Lord has led me there ,and is going to accompany me and help me and do my role as a pastor, as a shepherd to everybody.
His final words for the Filipino community, whom he has been a part of for over a decade: “I want to thank all the Filipino people for their love, support and gift of joy that they bring into the church.”
Solis won’t be alone — he says he’s already met Filipino priests in the area, and there are Simbang Gabi and other Pinoy celebrations in the beehive state.
As the Filipino faithful in LA bid him farewell, Bishop Solis will officially say hello to his new community on March 7th. He will be official installed as Bishop of Salt Lake City at the Cathedral of the Madeline.