By Pablo J. Sáinz
San Diego has a new Roman Catholic bishop, and he’s the first one of Mexican origin.
Cirilo Flores became the fifth bishop of the Diocese of San Diego on September 18th, after the resignation of Bishop Robert Brom.
Brom, who had been bishop since 1990, submitted his resignation after reaching the age of 75, at which Church law directs bishops to submit their resignation.
Flores becomes bishop of a diocese of almost one million people.
Before him, Gilbert Chavez had been coadjutor bishop in San Diego, but this is the first time that a man of Mexican origin has become the official bishop.
In a statement issued on his first day as bishop, Flores, who came to San Diego early last year as coadjutor bishop, called for believers to pray for him.
“Now, as the chief shepherd of the local church, I will count on and rely on your continuing collaboration, generosity, counsel, and, especially, prayer,” he said.
Flores said that he will put special emphasis on several issues, especially those having to do with charity, and evangelization, echoing Pope Francis.
“As we continue on our journey of faith as the Diocese of San Diego, may we never lose sight of our Lord’s call to care for the poor,” Flores said. “The work of faith formation must continue to be a key effort throughout our diocese. Our efforts must be strengthened as we form the next generations of faithful Catholics even as we emphasize anew the need for adult faith education and formation.”
And when Catholics are leaving the Church in alarming rates, Flores said that the diocese needs to encourage young people to learn more about their faith.
He said there’s a “need to minister in special ways to the youth and the young adults of our diocese. Whatever our age, we must all strive to strengthen our own faith so that we can better witness to the love, the mercy, and the truth found in Jesus Christ.”
Flores called his predecessor, Bishop Brom “an excellent teacher,” who will continue his work at the diocese.
“I have requested that he make himself available to parish groups for presentations regarding discipleship and evangelization,” Flores said.
Bishop Cirilo Flores was born in Corona, California, on June 20, 1948, the third child of Cirilo and Armida Flores. His father was from the state of Sinaloa, in northern Mexico.
Flores practiced law in Riverside and Los Angeles counties for ten years before he entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo in 1986. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Orange in 1991.
During his first day as bishop, Flores said that the diversity that exists in the Catholic Church is strength.
“The cultural diversity of our parishes brings a special fire and flavor to our faith,” he said. “Many feel the spirit truly alive in different ethnic and cultural celebrations. This diversity is appreciated as a gift in our diocese.”
For Rodrigo Valdivia, Diocese of San Diego Chancellor, Flores is not only an inspiration for Latino Catholics, but for all Catholics in San Diego.
“Bishop Cirilo Flores is a great encouragement for Catholic people in this diocese,” Valdivia said. “We trust that God’s grace has guided this assignment for the good of all believers in the local church.”
To learn more about the life of Bishop Cirilo Flores, please visit www.diocese-sdiego.org.