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Occiano installed as 3rd bishop of Virac

Most Rev. Luisito Audal Occiano, Doctor of Divinity.

By Myrna S. Bermudo

Most Rev. Luisito A. Occiano, DD, was led to his cathedra as he takes canonical possession of the Diocese of Virac. Most Rev. Rex Andrew Alarcon, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Caceres, together with the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles John Brown, went to the center of the sanctuary and handed over the pastoral staff to Bishop Occiano and invited him to sit on the cathedra (the Episcopal Seat of Virac). This happened in a solemn eucharistic celebration on June 26, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Virac, Catanduanes.

On February 29, the Holy Father Pope Francis appointed Occiano the third bishop of Virac.

He succeeds Most Rev. Manolo De los Santos who served Virac diocese for almost three decades.

During his installation, the Apostolic Letter from the Holy See was read by Archbishop Brown in Latin. Thereafter, the Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Allan Martin V. Basilio read the english version.

Bishop Occiano prays as he entered the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Virac.

Clergy of Virac during the installation ceremonies held in Virac Cathedral

Occiano arrived at the port of Virac on June 25. A motorcade brought him to the door of the Cathedral where he was formally received by Cathedral Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Allan Martin V. Basilio for the Liturgical Reception.

“Since my appointment as bishop, attention was focused on me. In this beautiful cathedral of Our Lady, may I invite you to focus our attention to theBlessed Mother who said: “Do whatever he tells you.” Let us therefore focus on her Son Jesus, our Lord and follow his commandments,” Occiano said in his response.

The civic reception followed at the Virac Plaza Rizal where the new bishop was given the symbolic keys of the province by Gov. Joseph Cua and from the Mayor of Virac Samuel Laynes.

The new bishop invited the local officials for collaboration in dispensing basic social services especially for those most in need.

Occiano was recently ordained to the episcopacy on June 21 at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Basilica Minore and National Shrine in Naga City. It was attended by eighteen bishops, the clergy of the Archdiocese of Caceres and Virac and other priests from Bicol.

Bp. Occiano’s motto Cum Gaudio Predicare (To proclaim with Joy) expresses his disposition as a person and as a priest. He is friendly and easily adjusts to people from various walks of life. His installation was attended by the faithful from various sectors including three buses from San Jose, Camarines Sur and two from Nabua, his hometown.

The Diocese of Virac has 50 parishes. It was established as a suffragan Diocese of the Archdiocese of Caceres in 1974 with the late Bishop Jose Sorra as her first Bishop. Included in the fifty parishes are 13 mission churches with about 70 priests active in the ministry. Sixteen religious consecrated men and women are helping the local Church.

In August, the diocese will celebrate its golden anniversary.

Caceres Archbishop Emeritus Rolando Tria Tirona was Occiano’s principal consecrator into the episcopacy on June 21. With Tirona were Archbishop Alarcon and Apostolic Nuncio to Israel Adolfo Tito Yllana as co-consecrators. Archbishop Brown graced the solemn occasion with his presence.

Bishop Occiano thanked Jose Cardinal Advincula of the Archdiocese of Manila; Lipa Archbishop Gilbert Garcera; Iba Zambales Bishop Bartolome Gaspar Santos; Urdaneta Bishop Jacinto Jose;

The Bicol bishops namely: Virac Bishop Emeritus Manolo De Los Santos; Caceres Archbishop Alarcon; Archbishop Emeritus Tria Tirona; Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon, Sorsogon Bishop Allan Dialogo; and Libmanan Bishop Jose Rojas; Daet Diocesan Administrator Ronald Anthony Timoner, and CBCP Secretary General Msgr. Bernardo Pantin.

In his homily, Bicolano Archbishop Garcera exhorted Bp. Occiano to be a pastor with a listening heart just like the Good Shepherd mentioned in the gospel of John. He invited Occiano not to forget that “in your ordination you were reminded to uplift the marginalized and help the poor.”

In his message of thanks, the third bishop of Virac invited the people of God in Virac to join him in thanking God’s abundant love in his journey saying that his new mission is a testament to God’s mercy. “Let us be the light and together, let us communicate God’s compassion where love and mercy abounds,” he said. “I am committing myself to a mission of proclaiming the gospel of hope filled with joy. Pray that I will proclaim this commitment in my life and in what I do. Let our shared vision be - to act with compassion striving to be a diocese that reflects the teachings of Christ on love, mercy, and justice. “

“A bishop is a divine presence of God,modelling his life after the Good Shepherd,” said Papal Nuncio Brown. “Pray for your bishop, obey your bishop and love your bishop,” he urged the faithful.

Bishop Manolo de los Santos welcomes Bishop Luisito Occiano at the port of Virac. (SocCom Virac)

Bishop Louie Occiano accepts the Pastoral Staff from Abp. Rex Andrew Alarcon, Metropolitan Archbishop of Caceres


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