The fifth Filipino apostolic nuncio was ordained to the episcopate at his home archdiocese of Manila on Friday, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Arnaldo Catalan was elevated to the rank of archbishop and given the titular see of Apollonia in a ceremony held at the Manila Cathedral.
He will be serving as Apostolic Nuncio to Rwanda.
The rites of ordination took place before physically-distanced Mass due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catalan was consecrated to the episcopate by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Serving as co-consecrators were Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila and Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.
In his homily, the cardinal told Catalan to let every activity and moment in his ministry “be the hour of Jesus”.
“And in God’s hour, may the people especially in Rwanda, see the mercy of the Lord and they themselves will say we will not be discouraged, we will not give up,” said Tagle, whose dicastery oversees mission territories like Rwanda.
The new archbishop described his appointment as a “surprise” and “a gift that is totally gratuitous and unmerited”.
“But it is also quite a demanding task,” Catalan said. “Truly God did not meet my expectations. He exceeded them so much that I am at a loss of words to thank Him.”
Also in attendance were a number of bishops including Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, the archbishop emeritus of Manila, and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop emeritus of Cotabato.
Catalan, 55, is the first priest of the Manila archdiocese to become a Vatican ambassador.
It was on Jan. 31 when Pope Francis appointed him as his new envoy to the East African nation.
Prior to his appointment, he had been serving as the Chargé d’affaires of the Holy See’s diplomatic mission in China (Taiwan) since 2019.
He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 2001 and served in the apostolic nunciature in Zambia, Kuwait, Mexico, Honduras, Turkey, India, Argentina, Canada, and the Philippines.
In addition to English, the archbishop also speaks Italian and Spanish.