Pope Francis names second Filipino bishop in US to serve LA

The Vatican named Monsignor Alejandro “Alex” Aclan the newest auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 5, making him the second Filipino to ever be presented as bishop in the United States.

Born in Pasay City, Philippines, Aclan, 68, moved to Southern California from the Philippines in 1982 and has served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for 25 years.

But before entering priesthood, Aclan’s career path started with a degree in medical technology from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Aclan shared in a feature in the Asian Journal’s Balikbayan Magazine in 2017.

Upon graduating, his career path moved yet again towards electronic data processing, which lead him to working as a programmer and systems analyst for companies like San Miguel Corp. and Citibank in the Philippines.

Aclan’s decision to enter the seminary came after he moved to the U.S. and attended a religious retreat, while still working as a project manager for a bank in Los Angeles.

By 1988, Aclan joined the St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California and was ordained five years later. 

Serving as an associate pastor at churches in Burbank and Norwalk, then pastor of the St. Madeleine Church in Pomona in 2001, Aclan was named associate vicar for clergy in 2011.

Four years later in 2015, Aclan became vicar for clergy and immersed himself in more service within the Los Angeles archdiocese.  This included serving as an archdiocesan liaison to the Filipino Charismatic Prayer Groups.

“Everybody has his own share of troubles,” he said in his Balikbayan Magazine interview. “ That goes for priests and lay people as well, that seems to be part of the human condition. All have been given tasks to do, equal to all. We have some very holy priests, but they do not see themselves as holy. Some priests are holy, they have the desire and zeal to minister to people, despite their age. They continue to have compassion and care for the poor and they just say yes to God’s invitation to serve.”

Having served in Los Angeles—home to the largest Filipino immigrant community in the U.S.—Aclan has been praised for being a connection to the city’s Fil-Am community.

“As a priest, you are blessed with the opportunity to make Christ present to somebody else, every moment of your life, like no one else. Carpe Diem, be present and take advantage of it, it is a real blessing! At mass, you are the instrument to make Christ present, folks approach you, someone asks you to bless the water, everyone comes with different stories in their lives. Pope Francis is the best example, just Google him in the morning and listen to his homily. It is a gift, use those moments, don’t waste them. Stay and be inspirational to the people,” Aclan added.

Aclan’s nomination to bishop comes 15 years since Bishop Oscar Solis became the first Fil-Am priest to be name bishop in the U.S. in 2004.  Solis served as an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles until 2017 when he was named by Pope Francis to become Bishop of Salt Lake City in Utah.

In a statement, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez described Aclan as a “proud son of our vibrant community.”

“Bishop-elect Aclan is a man of prayer and he was a true heart for Jesus—and a deep concern for the people is called to serve,” said Gomez who announced the appointments on Tuesday.

Gomez continued, “And I know he will be a voice for Filipino Catholics, who are a beautiful sign of growth and renewal in our Church here in Los Angeles and throughout the country.”

Aclan’s ordination is scheduled to take place on May 16 with a special Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels.

He joins Los Angeles auxiliary bishops Edward Clark, David O’Connell, Robert Barron, and Marc Trudeau, and will serve the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under Archbishop Gomez.

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