By Ferdinand Patinio

Monsignor Anthony Celino (Photo courtesy of CBCP News)

MANILA – Pope Francis has appointed a Filipino prelate as auxiliary bishop of a diocese in the United States.

Filipino immigrant Monsignor Anthony Celino was designated as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of El Paso in the state of Texas.

The Vatican announced the appointment on Wednesday noon (7 p.m. Manila time). He is El Paso’s first auxiliary bishop since its establishment as a diocese in 1914.

His episcopal ordination has been set on March 31 at the St. Patrick Cathedral.

The bishop-elect is currently the pastor of St. Raphael Parish on the east side of El Paso in Texas and the diocese’s judicial vicar.

“We thank the Holy Father for his attention and care for the Diocese of El Paso,” said the diocese’s Bishop Mark Seitz in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news website on Thursday.

“He brings a unique experience as a Filipino immigrant serving our border community as a priest for the past 25 years, a steadfast dedication to pastoral ministry, and fidelity to the Gospel,” he added.

Celino, who hails from Anda, Pangasinan, finished his studies in Philosophy at the Mary Help of Christians Seminary in Dagupan City in 1993.

Celino immigrated to the El Paso area, after college seminary where he pursued his theology studies at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.

He was ordained priest in 1997 and was assigned as Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso and then at the Our Lady of Peace in Alpine, Texas. He also served as the Pastor of the former Santa Lucia Parish, now St. John Paul II Parish.

In 2003, he obtained a licentiate in canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington.

Celino has also served as the diocese’s vicar general, moderator of the curia, and chancellor.

He is the third Filipino-American priest to be named bishop in the US. The two others are Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City and Auxiliary Bishop Alejandro Aclan of Los Angeles. (PNA)