Archdiocese of Philadelphia Has Its First Bishop of Filipino Descent

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Bishop Efren Esmilla.
Image via St. James Catholic Church.
Efren Esmilla is the first bishop of Filipino descent in the history of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Efren Esmilla is the first bishop of Filipino descent in the 216-year history of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, writes Denise Nakano for KYW Newsradio.

It’s a distinction he has great pride in.

“It’s not only the Filipinos that have been so happy about that, but even the other communities,” Esmilla said.

Esmilla arrived to Philadelphia from Nagcarlan, a municipality in Laguna, Philippines

As a young man, his cousin gifted him a medal of St. John Neumann of Philadelphia who had just been canonized in 1977.

Esmilla wore that medal in devotion to St. John Neumann, and years later, headed to the Philly region to study priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo in Wynnewood.

He served more than 30 years as a priest in South Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, Wallingford, Delaware County, and Montgomery County before Pope Francis appointed him auxiliary bishop in December 2023.

Esmilla adds diversity to the catholic church at one of its highest levels, a quality both he and the Pope agrees should be embraced and not feared.

“With the cultures that we have, the joy that we have, the church would be alive,” are the words Esmilla heard from Pope Francis and wholeheartedly agrees with.

Read more about Philadelphia’s first Filipino auxiliary bishop in KYW Newsradio

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