ANAHEIM, Calif.–When he speaks, the congregation listens. His positive energy is mixed with a sense of humor, and some showbiz-worthy charisma.
Fifty-nine year-old Oscar Solis has been doing it for almost 50 years as a man of faith.
For the past nine years, he’s done it the highest ranking Filipino Catholic clergyman in the U-S.
Originally from Nueva Ecija, Solis entered the seminary at age 11. By 1979 at 25 years old, he was ordained a priest in the Philippines.
He says there’s only one explanation for him being committed to the priesthood from a young age.
“It’s God’s mystery, it’s God’s grace, everything, I attribute everything to God’s grace,” Solis said. “We responded, and God works in everything we do as long as we open our hearts to his working, anything that is possible becomes possible with God.”
After serving in Cabanatuan, Solis spent four years at Saint Rocco Church in Union City, New Jersey and another six years as rector of St Joseph Co-Cathedral in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
In December of 2003, while in Louisiana, Solis got a call that made FIlipino-American history. He became the first Filipino bishop ordained in the U.S.
Despite the high title and high hopes of Filipinos, the man of the cloak remains humble and focused.
“It’s not much difference, I’m just doing what a regular bishop would do, so we don’t care about the honor or title, it’s the responsibility that has been entrusted in our care that is most essential and most important,” he said.
From tiny Jersey suburbs to a fisherman’s town in the Bayou, Solis has had no problems adjusting to his high-profile post in one of the most high-profile cities in the world.
As Los Angeles Auxiliary bishop, he’s also Vicar for Ethnic Ministry and is very involved with the Filipino Ministry.
"I’m still a FIlipino at heart and I love to see that the Pastoral needs of FIlipinos are taken care of so that they continue to grow and make an impact in the life of our local church in the United States,” said Solis, who remains the only Filipino-American bishop.
The bishop has had a long track record of success and reaching out to his parishioners from helping the poor to creating a pregnancy center in Louisiana. One of his ongoing projects; continuing to build the future of the church.
“The youth is a very important part in the life of the church these days, they show, they manifest the vitality that is stated in our church so I’m so excited when I see young people in our church getting involved in the life of the church and hopefully they will continue to do so,” Solis said.