Pope Francis appoints Fr. Ryan Jimenez as Bishop for Diocese of Chalan Kanoa

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Bishop Emeritus Camacho calls for public support, prayer

Editor’s note: The following article was provided by the North Star, the Official Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, Common Wealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

By Thomas Manglona II
tamanglona@gmail.com
North Star Correspondent
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

Jimenez, who will serve as the second bishop of the diocese, was notified of his appointment on June 18, 2016. The information was made public in a bulletin from the Vatican in Rome six days later at 8 p.m. last Friday.Pope Francis appointed Fr. Ryan P. Jimenez as bishop for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa last Friday on the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. The historic appointment comes after nearly six years of “sede vacante”, or the vacancy of an official seat, in the CNMI. His ordination will take place on August 14, 2016, before the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother.

He addressed parishioners in his first mass after the appointment alongside brother priests and Bishop Emeritus Tomas A. Camacho at Mt. Carmel Cathedral early last Saturday.

“Yes, six years is long, but six days waiting for this announcement felt way longer,” he told the crowd of parishioners. “It was then, only then, I understood the significance of time. That one day with the Lord could be like a thousand years or a thousand years could be like one day.”

The bishop-elect explained that after conducting prescheduled meetings on Rota last week, he “found peace or peace found me.” The island was where Jimenez started his religious life as a teacher there in 1995 for Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja.

“Yes, six years is long, but six days waiting for this announcement felt way longer,” he told the crowd of parishioners. “It was then, only then, I understood the significance of time. That one day with the Lord could be like a thousand years or a thousand years could be like one day.”

He also expressed gratitude for his fellow priests, religious sisters, friends, long-time supporters, and devout followers.

While he works to further unify the Catholic community, he noted that he will also play the role of a student.

“While it is my role to teach, I must need to listen and be a student. We need to learn from each other,” he added. “To my friends as I said: be my supporter but also be my number one critique.”

In his first act as bishop-elect, he urged the community to live healthy lives. He has been known to participate in several athletic events, even completing his first triathlon on island recently among many other activities.

Jimenez was born on December 18, 1971 in Dumaguete City, Philippines, joined the San Jose Seminary in Quezon and studied philosophy at the University Manila. According to the Vatican bulletin, as a major seminarian for the Diocese of Saipan, he continued his studies in the United States, at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California, getting a Masters in 2003.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa on June 08, 2003. Jimenez was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the diocese by Pope Benedict XVI in December of 2010.

Jimenez has played roles in the Church ranging from assistant priest in Kristo Rai Parish and Secretary of the Bishop to Spiritual Director of the Cursillo Movement to Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

In a brief address during the liturgical celebration, Bishop Emeritus Tomas A. Camacho called on parishioners to unify in prayer.

Camacho, who was named the first CNMI bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1985, said,“I ask the Lord to give me up to August…to impose my hands on my successor.”

“I would like to ask you to give him the support and the cooperation you have given me…he needs our prayers, our support, our cooperation,” he added.

The message was shared by Fr. Ken Hezel, S.J.,  in his homily. “We, like Fr. Ryan, will require time to process what that means for him and us in the future. And we pray he will be filled with the courage and trust and compassion of Jesus in all that he does…,” he said. “We realize today that the Lord does hear our prayers and does respond to our needs. Let us give thanks and praise.”

“I feel that he is perfect for this appointment because I believe he is a people person and good listener. You can trust him and I feel that he really cares for his Church. His calling is very important to him,” San Jose Tinian parish council treasurer  Balbina Perez told the North Star. “He is concerned truly about what the whole Church is about. He really knows what is demanded of him because of his calling as a priest.”

Like many others, Rota parishioner Mary Rose Lucero waited for this moment for many years. She described Jimenez as a person with a “compassionate heart.”

She added that he is “brave to speak about problems and explore ideas. This means stability.”

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