Pope Francis names a Filipino priest as new bishop of Saipan

MANILA -- A Filipino priest has been appointed by Pope Francis as new bishop for the Church in Oceania on Friday.

Fr. Ryan Jimenez will be the second bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in Saipan, the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands.

His episcopal ordination is set for Sunday, August 14, 2016, at the Chalan Kanoa cathedral.

Archbishop Martin Krebs, Apostolic Delegate to the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands and Papal Nuncio to various island countries in the Pacific, will be the primary consecrator at the ordination.

A priest for only around 12 years, Jimenez will succeed Bishop Emeritus Tomas Camacho who served the diocese for 25 years until his retirement in 2010.

He has been serving as the apostolic administrator of the diocese with 15 priests and 21 female religious who are working to serve more than 43,000 Catholics.

Jimenez, 44, was born in Dumaguete City, and raised in Larena, Siquijor.

The bishop-elect finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in Pre-Divinity from the Ateneo de Manila University before going to Saipan in 1997.

As a major seminarian for the Chalan Kanoa diocese, he continued his studies at the St. Patrick Seminary and University in California, USA, where he earned his Master's Degree in Theology in 2003.

In June of the same year, Jimenez was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.

For more than a decade as priest, he had served a number of pastoral roles including parish vicar, special secretary to the bishop, rector of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral, president of the diocesan commission for the cultural heritage of the Church, and diocesan chancellor.

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes said the appointment of Jimenez is a "great news."

“Let us rejoice and pray for Bishop Ryan as he takes on the apostolic responsibility,” he said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines news website. (PNA)

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