Pope Francis names new Virac bishop

By Ferdinand Patinio

March 1, 2024, 12:48 pm

<p><em>(Infographics courtesy of the Diocese of Virac)</em></p>

(Infographics courtesy of the Diocese of Virac)

MANILA – Pope Francis has named a new bishop of the Diocese of Virac in Catanduanes province.

The Vatican announced the appointment of Fr. Luisito Occiano on Thursday. He will be the third bishop of the diocese.

Occiano, 52, from the Archdiocese of Caceres, currently serves as the rector and parish priest of the Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph in San Jose, Camarines Sur.

“As I humbly accept this appointment as Bishop of Virac, I thank the Holy Father, Pope Francis for the trust. Likewise, the Archdiocese of Caceres with Archbishop Roly Tirona OCD and the clergy,” Occiano said in a statement.

“I also ask for your prayers and support in my new ministry. May the Holy Spirit guide me in shepherding God's people with wisdom, compassion, and integrity. Please pray for me as I strive to fulfill this sacred calling entrusted to me by the Church,” he added.

He will replace retired Bishop Manolo de los Santos, 76, whose resignation was accepted by the Pope. De los Santos served the diocese since 1994.

Occiano is also the director of the Caceres Commission on Communication.

Born on June 21, 1971, the bishop-elect completed his philosophy and theology studies at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City. He was ordained priest on Nov. 10, 1996.

Following his ordination, Occiano pursued further studies in religious formation and catechesis at the Ateneo De Manila University. He also holds the Master of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Naga University.

In 2003, he became the parochial vicar of the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Naga City.

From 2015 to 2021, Occiano served his first assignment as parish priest at St. Bartholomew Parish in Baao, Camarines Sur.

No date has been set yet for Occiano’s episcopal ordination. (PNA)