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Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis

Man of the Cloth

Amy Steinbrech | Photo courtesy of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City Jul 9, 2018

From his early days serving as an altar boy in the Philippines, to his current role as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, Oscar A. Solis has built his life around one principle — serving others.

As the first Filipino-American bishop ordained in the United States, Solis recently celebrated his first anniversary of shepherding his flock of more than 295,000 Catholics in Utah.

“I am a simple and passionate man,” says the Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis. “A people’s person who loves life and whose life is filled with much joy.” 

A Purposeful Life

Solis grew up in a tight-knit family with four siblings and always felt a close calling to his faith. As the self-described “forgotten middle child,” Solis found comfort and a familiarity in his Catholic upbringing. It was his mother who instilled the desire in him for a vocation in religion. 

“She opened the door for me to enter seminary when I was 11 years old,” Solis recalls. “I was surrounded by wonderful people who encouraged my calling and prepared me for the religious life.”

After completing seminary, he moved to Manila and earned his college degree in philosophy. Next, after briefly trying his hand at law, Solis returned to the seminary. “I knew something was missing and craved returning to the seminary because I was not fulfilled,” Solis says. He finished studying theology and was then ordained to the priesthood.

Following a year of postgraduate studies, his home diocese called for him to return as dean of students at the college seminary, teaching logic and philosophy. His ministry took him next to New Jersey and Louisiana, before he began serving as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for 13 years, and ultimately to his current assignment in Utah.

The Calling

Solis says his calling to the religious life is a mystery even to himself. “I’ll be honest, I cannot define a certain moment in my life when I said, ‘This is it,’” Solis notes.

It was his upbringing in the church that likely set the stage, he guesses. He discovered God’s will at a young age and says he still feels the same inner joy he did back then. Solis feels God’s hands at work in his life, molding and leading him.

“It brings me tremendous joy to see the people I serve getting closer to God,” Solis says. “They are excited about their faith.”

One important lesson he learned in his religious formation is to be open to God’s grace and will, and that has brought him tremendous happiness and fulfillment, he says.

Hopes and Dreams

Solis is proud of the vibrant Catholic church in Utah, and the enthusiastic laity who are committed to their faith. He hopes in spite of differing religious beliefs, people in Utah can all gather as God’s children.

“I might be thinking of paradise, but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming,” Solis says. “It’s free and everything big comes from a small dream. You have to start somewhere.” 

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