By Rose Gamier
It took six years of waiting for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa to finally be blessed with a new Bishop, on August 14, 2016 and a year after that historic moment, the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa and the Most Reverend Ryan P. Jimenez, DD, will celebrate the First Anniversary of his Episcopal ordination with a Mass on Monday, August 14, 2017 at Mt. Carmel Cathedral at 6 AM with the clergy and all the faithful invited.
It can be recalled that he was appointed by Pope Francis on June 24, 2016, the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John, the Baptist. He is the second Bishop in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa succeeding Bishop Emeritus Tomas A. Camacho, who have reached the canonical age of retirement on 2010.
In his first message as a Bishop, he chose the passage from John 12:21, “We would like to see Jesus” (Volumus Iesum Videre) as his Episcopal motto, saying, “We must go down-deep, if we are truly to see. Only then will it be possible for us to see Jesus and to recognize him here in our diocese. Only then will it be possible to see the Lord in the ordinary events of our lives, both individual and ecclesial, and to recognize him in others, particularly those who are in need.” Since his appointment, the Bishop has initiated various activities to reach out. He conducted the Bike the Faith, a biking event to enhance inter-faith harmony in the island, stopping at other Christian churches for prayer and blessing. He also conducted listening sessions in the different parishes and is currently working on the diocesan pastoral planning.
We would like to see Jesus, but how do the people see our new Bishop?
Parishioners generally have positive feedbacks, saying that he is doing a good job.
A Filipino couple with two children, who has been on the island for 20 years said that, “our family is happy that he is the Bishop here in Saipan. He is working hard in the Diocese and very cooperative in any issues about the community.” The husband and father describe him as friendly and approachable. They are happy because “he approaches and talks to them wherever we see him.”
A parishioner from Santa Remedios Parish, said, “He may be the hardest working member of the church, but despite of his busy schedule, he always inspires everyone with his wise words. He never fails to give us inspiring homilies. His humility remains in him despite of his promotion and that quality could outshine his smile. He continues to work harder with (people of) all ages, I know that he wants to make everyone happy. Father Ryan is an awesome Bishop and we thank God for his gift. Mabuhay!” Their pastor, Fr. Philip Rollon, OAR, who was installed last year described him as approachable, someone who listens attentively when people have concerns. “He is like a father, and he knows how to empathize with people carefully weighing every situation.”
The youths also have very positive impression of him. One said he is very kind, always making sure that parishioners are fine, and keeping a positive attitude to people he meets.
A student of Mt. Carmel School who also serve as an Acolyte at Kristo Rai Parish said, he wasn’t surprised when he heard of his appointment because he knew he was the best person to be holding the position. He looked at him as someone responsible, ready to help the people. He was at the listening session and though he knew he was fit for the role, there was a bit of a shock in him when he first saw him in person now “promoted” to a higher and bigger responsibility.
Some people are happy with his plans for the diocese and even offered suggestions.
A woman actively serving in the diocese shared that he has been full of energy in putting things accordingly, focusing himself on the on-going Diocesan Planning. She believes that a good challenge would be to reach out to those who may be “outside” the church.
A parishioner of San Vicente thinks it would be good if the Bishop can invite good speakers from around the world to come and inspire the CNMI to give a speech about important issues or word of God to the communities involved.
Someone described him as a man with a big heart. “Siya po yung bishop na pwede mong lapitan anytime.” (He is the Bishop you can approach anytime). But he also offered a helpful observation saying that “he should know when or when not to please people in order not to compromise what is good for the diocese especially now that we are in the process of pastoral planning.”
Allan Cabatian, OAR, installed last year as the parish priest of San Roque described him as a true shepherd because he leads the diocese into a new perspective of catholic faith by setting up the pastoral plan. This would help address the different challenges, struggles and issues in the diocese and would help enhance the active participation of the faithful. He also sets an example to his clergy on how to become good pastor.
Fr. Jason Granado of San Vicente Parish was asked about how he views the Bishop in his new role and he said, “Bishop Ryan has been our Apostolic Administrator for almost 6 years, which means he was already acting in his capacity as bishop as far as running the diocese is concerned. Therefore, in this sense I would say he had a smooth transition as a bishop.”
“Now, obviously being a bishop and an administrator are two different things. I’m sure Bishop Ryan feels the weight of his pastoral duty even more but he knows whom to turn to in his need – Jesus Christ. I remember last year upon hearing of his appointment, and feeling overwhelmed, he went around visiting churches to pray.”
In an article last year, he was asked what kind of a Bishop will he be, and Bishop Ryan said, “My answer is still incomplete but I think part of my role as a bishop is to bring this joy to others. The joy of the Gospel, the joy that is Jesus himself. That kind of joy, seeing the goodness of God’s creation in every human person.”
If the people’s feedbacks are any indication, it seems he is off to a good start and the Bishop can probably give himself a little respite before his ordination anniversary. His first year so far is going smoothly but the road is still long and things are just getting started.
One youth was asked how he finds the Bishop and he motioned, “okay”. When asked further for two thumbs up, the young lad raised both thumbs and his right foot, saying “toes” included. That’s quite an impression…two thumbs up and a right toe, what can we say, Bishop Ryan, way to go!