Pope names CamSur priest as new Virac bishop

March 1, 2024 - 9:31 AM
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Bishop-elect Luisito Occiano of the Diocese of Virac. (Screenshot from Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph video)

Pope Francis on Thursday named Father Luisito Occiano of the Archdiocese of Caceres as the new bishop of Virac.

Occiano will replace retired Bishop Manolo de los Santos, whose resignation was accepted by the pope.

De los Santos, who is now 76 years old, served the island diocese in Catanduanes province since 1994.

Occiano, 52, currently serves as the rector and parish priest of the Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph in San Jose town, Camarines Sur province.

He is also the director of the Caceres Commission on Communication.

During Occiano’s installation as the shrine’s rector in 2021, Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres described him as a “humble, approachable priest with a warm personality.”

“He relates well with the people and works effectively with them,” Tirona said. “And he is very committed to his work.”

The archbishop admitted that there was a time when he wanted the priest to study diplomacy at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome “because he can be a diplomat”.

Tirona said, “He has the charisma for it,” adding that the priest is also active in various civic organizations.

Born on June 21, 1971, Occiano completed his philosophy and theology studies at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City. He was ordained priest on November 10, 1996.

Following his ordination, he pursued further studies in religious formation and catechesis at the Ateneo De Manila University. He also holds the Master of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Naga University.

As a young priest, he served as a parochial vicar at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral before later becoming the secretary to the then shepherd of Caceres, the late Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi.

He also served as the director of the archdiocese’s catechetical ministry and as vice rector of the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

In 2003, he became the parochial vicar of the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Naga City.

From 2015 to 2021, he served his first assignment as parish priest at St. Bartholomew Parish in Baao, Camarines Sur.

No date has been set yet for Occiano’s episcopal ordination and installation as the third bishop of Virac.