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Apostolic Nuncio to attend the episcopal ordination of Bicolano bishop-elect

By Myrna S. Bermudo

His Grace, the Most Rev. Charles John J. Brown, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, will grace the episcopal ordination of Rev. Fr. Luisito Audal Occiano, Bishop-elect of Virac on June 21. The apostolic nuncio serves as ambassador of the Vatican to the Philippines. He plays an important role in the appointment of bishops. He is also the dean of the diplomatic corps.

Archbishop Brown, an American, was appointed by Pope Francis as apostolic nuncio to the Philippines on September 28, 2020. He succeeded Archbishop Gabriele Giordno Caccia, D.D. who also came to Naga to join the fluvial procession on September 20, 2019. This will be the third time that Brown, a church diplomat, will be coming to Naga. He first came upon the invitation of the Archdiocese of Caceres to grace with his presence the Peñafrancia Fiesta in September 2023. As a pilgrim, he participated in the fluvial procession by riding the pagoda of Ina together with the Bikol bishops and male devotees. He presided the Mass at the end of the fluvial procession on September 16 and the Fiesta Mass on the next day, September 17. Both masses were held at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore. The Vatican ambassador next came to Naga on May 2 as the installing prelate of Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon , D.D., the 5th Archbishop of Caceres.

Bishop-elect Occiano’s main consecrator will be Archbishop – Emeritus Rolando J. Tria Tirona, O.C.D., D.D. The co – consecrators are Archbishop Adolfo Tito C. Yllana, D.D., apostolic nuncio to Israel and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine and Caceres Archbishop Alarcon who will preach during the occasion. On February 29, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Luisito A. Occiano as the third of Virac. Vatican has also accepted the resignation of Bishop Manolo de los Santos, rendering the diocese sede vacante pending consecration of Fr. Occiano. Following the acceptance of his resignation, Bishop Manolo de los Santos has been appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese. The designation ensures the smooth transition of pastoral care while awaiting the canonical possession of the Diocese by Bishop-elect Occiano. Bishop de los Santos has dedicated 29 years and 5 months of service as the shepherd of the diocese.

The Diocese of Virac expressed her gratitude in her social media account: “With hearts brimming with gratitude to the Almighty, we joyously announce the appointment of our new bishop, Rev. Fr. Luisito Audal Occiano. As we collectively lift our voices in thanksgiving for the dedicated service of our beloved Bishop Manolo de los Santos throughout the years, we also extend a warm welcome to Bishop-elect Occiano.” Papal Nuncio Archbishop Brown visited Virac in August 27, 2021 upon the invitation of the diocese for the celebration of her 47th foundation anniversary, blessing and dedication of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.


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