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Pope appoints Caceres priest as new bishop of Virac

By Myrna S. Bermudo



CCCom Photo: Christopher Cruz


On February 29, Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Luisito A. Occiano as the new bishop of Virac. The appointment was publicly announced by the Vatican at 7:00 pm Philippine time. The Diocese of Virac has jurisdiction over the province of Catanduanes.


Outgoing Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD., DD, announced the appointment to a group of priests gathered at the Archbishop’s Residence in Naga City.


In Catanduanes, outgoing Virac Bishop Manolo de Los Santos also announced the appointment of Fr. Occiano after the Eucharistic celebration he presided with the diocesan clergy at the Cave Chapel of the Immaculate Conception Seminary.


“With hearts brimming with gratitude to the Almighty, we joyously announce the appointment of our new bishop, Rev. Fr. Luisito Audal Occiano,” said the Diocese of Virac in their Facebook post. “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 Luisito Occiano.”


The Diocese of Virac is preparing to celebrate its Golden Jubilee Year on August 27, 2024.


“With great joy and anticipation, the Catanduanes government extends its warmest felicitations to the newly appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Virac, His Excellency Most Rev. Luisito A. Occiano,” said the Catandungan provincial government on its social media account. “Let us join together in prayer and support as we turn to this new chapter under the leadership of Bishop Luisito Occiano. May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire and bless Bishop Occiano in his sacred ministry, and may the Diocese of Virac flourish under his loving care.”


“Missionaries are supposed to be ready to face any consequences as he could be accepted or rejected by the people. As I prepare for my new mission, I believe that the Diocese of Virac will be a very friendly, a very warm and a very good place to bring the Good News,” said Bishop - elect Occiano on his appointment.


Fr. Occiano currently serves as the rector and parish priest of the Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph in San Jose, Camarines Sur. He is also the director of the Caceres Commission on Communication since 2004.


In 2021, now Archbishop Emeritus Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres described Occiano as a “humble, approachable priest with a warm personality. He relates well with the people and works effectively with them and he is very committed to his work.”


The Solemn Episcopal Ordination will take place on Friday, 21 June 2024, 09:00 in the morning, at the Peñafrancia Basilica Minore. He will be consecrated by Archbishop-emeritus Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD, with Apostolic Nuncios Adolfo Tito C. Yllana, DD and Charles John Brown, DD as co-consecrators. Archbishop Rex Andrew C. Alarcon will serve as homilist.


Bishop-elect Occiano will be installed on June 26 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Virac, Catanduanes. 


He was born on June 21, 1971, completed his philosophy and theology studies at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City and was ordained priest on November 10, 1996.


Following his ordination, he pursued further studies in religious formation and catechesis at the Ateneo De Manila University.


As a young priest, he served as assistant priest at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral then he became secretary to the then Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi,OP. He also served as the director of the Caceres Catechetical Ministry and vice rector of Our Lady of Peñafrancia Basilica Minore.


In 2002, he was appointed member of the core staff of the  Caceres Commission on Communications. Then on 2003, he was appointed its director. “I am thankful to our brothers and sisters in the media industry with whom I have worked with for twenty years of my priestly life. They have helped me a lot in my priestly ministry. Media has been a part of my life.” He also served as the parochial vicar of the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Naga City.


In  2015 to 2021, he served as parish priest at St. Bartholomew Parish in Baao, Camarines Sur. Then from 2021 to present he was appointed to the parish of St. Joseph in San Jose.


Bishop-elect Occiano has requested the faithful of Catanduanes to pray for him to receive the wisdom necessary to serve them. “Please pray for me as I strive to fulfill this sacred calling entrusted to me by the Church. May the Holy Spirit guide me in shepherding God’s people with wisdom, compassion, and integrity. Please pray that I will be a worthy servant in the Diocese of Virac.”


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