Catholic community welcomes Aclan as second ever Filipino bishop in the US
OUTSIDE the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, tour buses lined up waiting for some of the thousands of faithful Catholics from throughout the city’s Archdiocese who attended the ordination of Filipino Bishop Alejandro “Alex” D. Aclan on Thursday, May 16.
Inside, attendees eagerly watched and participated in the service which featured songs and readings in both English and Filipino — breaking into applause as Aclan made his way around the cathedral while holding the papal decree signed by Pope Francis, and again after officially being ordained as an auxiliary bishop.
Aclan, 68, was named the newest auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by the Vatican in March, becoming the second Filipino to ever be presented as bishop in the United States after Bishop Oscar Solis who served as an auxiliary in Los Angeles from 2004 to 2017.
Before reading Pope Francis’ mandate formally appointing Aclan as bishop, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., introduced Aclan to the audience as being another Filipino bishop at which another applause broke out.
“I know that you wanted a nice and quiet sabbatical, but the Holy Father has called you to something great in the service of the Church,” Pierre joked to Aclan.
“Now God is calling you to something heroic — to preach His Gospel and lift the burdens of His people,” he added. “These days, everyone wants to see the Avengers movie. I suppose we could speculate about your superhero name, but there can be no question about your superpower — the power of prayer.”
Ordaining Bishop Aclan was Archbishop José H. Gomez, along with Archbishop Emeritus Cardinal Roger Mahony and Bishop Solis.
In his homily, Gomez said to Aclan: “So, my brother Alex, God has called you in this time and place, in this moment in the Church. Today He consecrates you and appoints you to be a bishop — in a time of renewal and reform in the Church. It is a time, as we know, with shadows and uncertainty. But it is also a time of bright hope and new possibilities.”
“My brother, Jesus reminds you today in the Gospel that as a bishop — you are not a ‘lord,’ but a servant. You are not a ‘master,’ but a father,” added Gomez. “As a bishop, you need to let Jesus be your only teacher.”
Emphasizing the priestly duties of bringing about reconciliation and peace, Aclan said, “Christ is all about reconciliation and peace and we know from the gospel of John that his prayer is what that we be one.”
“Ours is a church that is very diverse, and the challenge is great. I ask that we continue to pray for our archdiocese, and do so even more, so we too can achieve our ultimate goal — oneness in Christ Jesus our Lord,” added Aclan.
‘A voice for Filipino Catholics’
In the audience that packed the 3,000 people capacity cathedral, the Filipino-American Catholic community presence was strong as attendees came dressed in their traditional barong Tagalogs and Filipinianas.
“I cannot express — it was so beautiful and outstanding. Praise the Lord,” said Generoso Toledo, a Filipino Catholic from the Holy Family Catholic Church in Artesia, California.
Following the ordination, attendees made their way outside and patiently waited in line to meet Bishop Aclan.
“It is really a great honor that we have another Filipino bishop, especially he’s a member of the Cursillo Movement. He is great,” added Toledo, referring to the Catholic Church lay movement which looks to instill in individuals the fundamentals of being a Christian.
Born in Pasay City, Philippines, Aclan moved to the U.S. at the age of 31 where he soon after decided to enter the seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1993, and served as parochial vicar, pastor, Associate Vicar for Clergy, and Vicar for clergy throughout Southern California in the years after.
In announcing the new appointments in March, Gomez described Aclan as a “proud son of our vibrant community.”
Further describing Aclan as a man of prayer, Gomez continued, “And I know he will be a voice for Filipino Catholics, who are a beautiful sign of growth and renewal in our Church here in Los Angeles and throughout the country.”
In Aclan’s most recent interview with the Asian Journal, he emphasized the importance of community both in the Philippines and in the U.S. during his journey to the priesthood and now as a bishop.
During his ordination, Aclan again expressed gratitude to those who supported him throughout the years — thanking his family seated at the front, and tearing up when thanking his deceased mother and father.
“We know that our liturgies — especially the Eucharist — are a foretaste of heaven on earth,” said Aclan. “I cannot think of a better foretaste of heaven than this.”
Bishop Aclan will serve as episcopal vicar for the San Fernando Pastoral Region of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which is the largest Archdiocese in the U.S. with approximately 5 million Catholics.