SAN DIEGO — The long-awaited celebration is just around the corner.
Almost four months after Fathers Michael Pham and Felipe Pulido were named auxiliary bishops of the Diocese of San Diego, they will finally become bishops on Thursday, Sept. 28.
At their episcopal ordination Mass, the mandate from Pope Francis appointing them will be read publicly and then presented to the two men, who will show it to Cardinal Robert W. McElroy, the other bishops and priests in attendance, and the assembly.
The two men also will publicly pledge to guard the Catholic faith and to discharge their duties as bishops. After the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination, their heads will be anointed with sacred chrism, a perfumed oil consecrated at the annual chrism Mass, and they will receive the Book of Gospels and the insignia of the episcopal office: the mitre, the crosier and the bishop’s ring.
Cardinal McElroy will be the principal ordaining bishop. The principal co-ordaining bishops will be Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Wash., and Bishop John P. Dolan of Phoenix, Ariz., who served as auxiliary bishop of San Diego from 2017 to 2022. Among the other concelebrants will be Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano of San Diego and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles.
The ordination Mass will be preceded by other significant liturgies.
On Sunday, Sept. 10, Cardinal McElroy will celebrate a Mass for Bishop-elect Pulido in his home Diocese of Yakima, during which the bishop-elect will make his Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity.
The cardinal will celebrate a similar Mass for Bishop-elect Pham on Sunday, Sept. 17, at Good Shepherd Parish in Mira Mesa, where the bishop-elect had been serving as pastor when he was appointed auxiliary bishop.
“It’s lovely that their communities get to witness that,” Noreen McInnes, director of the diocesan Office for Liturgy and Spirituality, said of the Profession of Faith, which is essentially the Nicene Creed recited at Sunday Mass, and the Oath of Fidelity, in which the bishop-elect promises to “always be faithful” to the Church and the pope.
At a vesper service on Wednesday, Sept. 27, in the presence of the diocese’s priests, who will be gathered for their annual convocation, Cardinal McElroy will bless the mitres, crosiers and rings that Bishops-elect Pham and Pulido will receive at their ordination Mass the following day.
Pope Francis announced the appointment of Bishops-elect Pham and Pulido as auxiliary bishops for San Diego on June 6. Upon their episcopal ordination, they will assist Cardinal McElroy and join Auxiliary Bishop Bejarano in ministering to the almost 1.4 million Catholics of San Diego and Imperial counties.
Bishop-elect Pham, 56, was born in Da Nang, Vietnam. He and his family fled their homeland as refugees and emigrated to the United States, settling first in Minnesota and then in San Diego.
Ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of San Diego in 1999, he was serving as pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, vicar for ethnic and intercultural communities and vicar general at the time of his appointment as auxiliary bishop.
Bishop-elect Pulido, 53, was born in Dos Aguas, Michoacán, a small town west of Mexico City, and moved to the Yakima Valley in Washington State with his family while he was in high school.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 2002 in Yakima. Just prior to being appointed as one of San Diego’s auxiliary bishops, he was vicar for clergy and vocations director for the Diocese of Yakima, as well as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Kennewick, Wash.
The episcopal ordination Mass on Sept. 28 will be a ticketed event and not open to the public, but Catholics throughout the diocese are invited to watch the livestreamed liturgy beginning at 2 p.m., through the website sdcatholic.org.
The diocese has made this a ticketed event given the large number of people expected to turn out for the ordination Mass, including the friends and family members for each bishop-elect, plus priests, bishops and members of Church organizations.
McInnes said it is “a tremendous blessing for our diocese” that Pope Francis has appointed two auxiliary bishops and that the ordination liturgy will be “a wonderful celebration.” She suggested that local Catholics might consider gathering at their parishes to watch the livestream together.