Bishop Oscar Azarcon Solis Named Tenth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
Friday, Dec. 30, 2016
Bishop Oscar Azarcon Solis speaks during the Jan. 10 press conference introducing him as the 10th Bishop of Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY — After 20 months without an ordinary, the Diocese of Salt Lake City has received word that Bishop Oscar Solis has been appointed its new head.
“The wait has been worth it,” said Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw, diocesan administrator, at the Jan. 10 press conference introducing the bishop to Utah.
Bishop Solis, the monsignor said, is “joyful, he is experienced, and multi-talented.”
Ordained a priest in 1979 in his native Philippines, Bishop Solis ministered in his home country as well as in New Jersey and Louisiana before being appointed an auxiliary bishop for Los Angeles in 2004. Bishop Solis is Auxiliary Bishop for the San Pedro Region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which has the largest Filipino Catholic population in the country. Previously he served as the archdiocese’s Vicar for Ethnic Ministry and Director of the Office of Justice and Peace.
At the press conference, Bishop Solis said he has been working very hard for the last 13 years in Los Angeles – “I would like to emphasize the words ‘very hard,’” he said, to laughter from those in the room, who included not only members of the press but Pastoral Center staff and diocesan priests and deacons – “and lo and behold, I received a very surprising and shocking phone call informing me that Pope Francis was asking me to become the 10th Bishop of Salt Lake City.”
The call came out of nowhere, he said; his first response was, “Am I in trouble?"
In response, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who was on the other end of the line, “made me feel at peace,” Bishop Solis said.
Since that call, he has felt many emotions, among them fear of uncertainty and gratitude for God’s blessings, he said.
The visit to Salt Lake City for the announcement of his appointment was only his second to the Beehive State; he had come once before to officiate at a wedding, he said in an interview.
Since hearing of his new assignment, he has started to become acquainted with the diocese; already he has learned about Catholic Community Services’ and other pastoral outreach to the poor and needy. He said he can’t wait to hear the voices of the Madeleine Choir School students, and he is looking forward to working with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to enhance the well-being of all the people of Utah.
“I humbly submit myself to you as the new servant leader of the Diocese of Salt Lake City and a shepherd for the people of the state of Utah,” he said as he concluded his prepared remarks. “Please pray for me. Pray that God will give me the wisdom and the strength to be a responsible shepherd of the fl ock of the diocese of Salt Lake City and the people of Utah. … I am overjoyed, I am encouraged and excited to be here. From now on I say that this is my home, this is my church, this is my state and you are my family, and we are a family.”
The Intermountain Catholic will have the complete story in the Jan. 10 edition.