Pope Francis announced Wednesday that a priest of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, has been appointed to serve as an auxiliary bishop in the diocese. 

Bishop-elect Anthony Celino, who currently serves as pastor of St. Raphael Parish in East El Paso and is the diocese’s judicial vicar, will be ordained as auxiliary bishop March 31 at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso.

Celino, the youngest of seven children, immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1993 after seminary studies there. The 50-year-old priest holds an undergraduate philosophy degree from Mary Help of Christians College Seminary in the Philippines. 

After coming to the United States, he studied at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, earning a master of divinity degree and a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology in 1997. 

He was ordained a priest that same year.

Celino then continued his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he earned a licentiate in canon law in 2003. 

According to the diocese, Celino is the third Filipino to be elected a U.S. bishop. He has served many roles within the diocese, including as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso; parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace in Alpine; and pastor at Santa Lucia Parish, now renamed St. John Paul II Parish.

Celino has also served as the diocese’s vicar general, moderator of the curia, and the diocese’s chancellor. He taught at the diocese’s Tepeyac Institute, an organization that helps to form lay ministers within the diocese.

“We thank the Holy Father for his attention and care for the Diocese of El Paso,” El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz said in a Feb. 8 diocesan statement.

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“Bishop-elect Celino’s qualities are known in the diocese. He has previously served as my vicar general and made substantive contributions to the local Church’s life. He brings a unique experience as a Filipino immigrant serving our border community as a priest for the past 25 years, a steadfast dedication to pastoral ministry, and fidelity to the Gospel,” Seitz said.

The Diocese of El Paso, which takes up a large chunk of the western part of Texas, covers 26,686 square miles and serves 720,009 Catholics, according to the USCCB. There are more Catholics in the Diocese of El Paso than people who live in the state of Vermont and the state of Wyoming respectively.

The diocese said that Celino will continue serving as pastor of St. Raphael Catholic Church and Judicial Vicar until the late spring.