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Pope Francis installs Bicolano priest as head of Vatican parish

VATICAN CITY --- The new parish priest in the Vatican City is a Filipino. Pope Francis installed Father Ted Lopez as the parish priest of the Saints Elizabeth and Zachary Parish of Vatican City last Friday, October 27. Fr. Lopez is thankful for the trust that was given to him by their Bishop, none other than Pope Francis himself. He said that this has a greater meaning, which is to guide a part of his flock. “It is a privilege for me as a Filipino to serve as parish priest in Rome. Historically, it was the Europeans who introduced the Catholic faith to Filipinos. Now, it is the Filipinos who will spread the faith in Europe,” Lopez said. A Latin adage underscores the positions of Lopez: “When parish priests are outside Rome, they are considered as bishops. Because inside Rome, the Pope himself serves as Bishop.” “I know that this new calling comes with deeper sense of commitment to the Lord. I believe that this is His plan for me and I whole-heartedly accept it. To God be the Glory,” Lopez added. Known by his colleagues and friends as a bubbly and humble servant, Lopez was the first Bicolano Gregorian priest and the third Filipino to become a parish priest inside the Vatican City in Rome. Born and raised in Ligao, Albay, the young Lopez completed his high school studies at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Tabaco, Albay, Lopez before going to Rome to finish a college degree and fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a priest. In December 1994, he was officially ordained to priesthood. Lopez has been living in Italy for 30 years and served the Roman Catholic Church for 22 years. He recently served at the Parrocchia Nostra Signora di Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes), Diocese of Rome. In January 2015, Lopez was part of Pope Francis’ delegation during his visit in the Philippines where they went to Tacloban for spiritual support to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. “He cracks jokes every once in a while and it always gathers a good laugh for a solid minute or two,” one of Lopez’s seminarian classmate said. Lopez is following the footsteps of his fellow Bicolano, the late Bishop Jose Barlin (of Baao, Camarines Sur) — the first Filipino Bishop in the Catholic Church who was anointed as the 28th Bishop of Nueva Caceres by the Vatican on Dec. 14, 1905. Barlin’s episcopal consecration was held on June 29, 1906 in Manila.

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