Sacramento diocese ordains new Filipino bishop

June 7, 2024 - 10:56 AM
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Auxiliary Bishop Rey Bersabal of Sacramento delivers a message after his episcopal ordination at the city’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on May 31, 2024. (Screenshot from Diocese of Sacramento Video via CBCP News)

A Filipino priest serving in the US diocese of Sacramento was formally made its auxiliary bishop, marking a new chapter in his service to the Church.

Bishop Rey Bersabal was ordained to the episcopate by Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento during Mass on Friday (Saturday in the Philippines) at the city’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

Soto was joined by his predecessor, Bishop Emeritus William Weigand, and Archbishop Jose Cabantan of Cagayan de Oro as co-consecrators.

Joining them at the liturgy were some 12 bishops and four cardinals, including Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop emeritus of Cotabato.

Before the ordination rite, Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio in the US, read the apostolic letter from Pope Francis, testifying that Bersabal should be ordained bishop.

“By receiving this new calling… the Lord is asking you to continue the work of a pastor, which has been at the center of your priestly ministry for many years,” Pierre told Bersabal.

During the investiture, the new bishop received the signs of his office — the ring, miter and crosier.

In his homily, Soto emphasized that the title of bishop signifies a task and not an honor, as he exhorted Bersabal to be “faithful steward” of the church entrusted to his care.

“Love all those whom God places in your care, especially the priests and deacons who are your co-workers in the ministry of Christ,” Soto said.

“Love also the poor and the weak, foreigners and strangers. Exhort the faithful to work with you in your apostolic labors and don’t refuse to listen willingly to them,” he added.

One of the 12 dioceses in California, the Sacramento diocese has around 3.6 million population, with more than 1 million of them Catholic.

The diocese encompasses 102 parishes, 40 missions, three Newman Centers, 36 elementary schools and six high schools.

Bersabal urged the diocese’s more than 300 priests and permanent deacons they continue to work “shoulder to shoulder” in guiding and serving their flock.

Addressing the faithful, he assured to continue serving them “with open arms”.

“I only ask that you pray for me… that I may continuously be blessed with his grace in the new chapter of being a servant to His holy people as a priest, and as a bishop,” Bersabal said.

Pope Francis appointed Bersabal as auxiliary bishop of Sacramento on April 20.

Born in Magsaysay, a town in the southern Philippine province of Misamis Oriental, on October 15, 1964, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro on April 29, 1991.

He came to Sacramento in 1999 at the invitation of Bishop Weigand and has since served in various posts.

Bersabal, who became the fifth Filipino diocese in the US, was incardinated into the Sacramento diocese on April 7, 2004.