SAN DIEGO — Thursday morning the Vatican announced the appointment by Pope Francis of Father Ramón Bejarano, a priest of the diocese of Stockton, as the new Auxiliary Bishop at the Diocese of San Diego. Bejarano, who has roots on the U.S.-Mexico border, joins the existing leadership of the diocese.
“Today our local Church of San Diego is profoundly blessed to receive a new Auxiliary Bishop who will work with me and Bishop John Dolan in leading the Catholic communities of Imperial and San Diego counties,” said the San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy.
Bishop McElroy noted, “I first met Bishop-Elect Bejarano at a pastoral conference in Modesto three years ago where the late Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire told me ‘Ramón is one of our finest priests with a shepherd’s heart, the zeal of missionary discipleship, and an intuitive ability to nurture and heal the souls of his people. I pray that someday he might be the first priest of Stockton to become a bishop.’
“Now that prayer has become realized, thanks to the pastoral care of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, the entire Catholic community of Stockton, led by Bishop Myron Cotta, and the faith and love of Ramón’s parents and brothers and sister.”
Bishop McElroy presented Bishop-Elect Bejarano to the Pastoral Center staff at a prayer service in the afternoon. The Bishop-Elect spoke briefly to the staff, saying he was surprised and humbled to have been named.
He said the he had been wanting to be a priest since he was seven years old, “but I never wanted to be a bishop.”
Bishop-Elect Bejarano, 50, was born in Seagraves, Texas, on July 17, 1969, the son of José and María Elena Bejarano. His family moved back to Mexico soon after his birth, and he spent his early life in Aldama, Chihuahua.
He and his family moved to Tracy when he was 18. He immediately began working in the farming fields in the San Joaquin Valley to help support his family. Two years later, he was able to act on his long-standing desire to become a priest and applied to be a seminarian for the diocese of Stockton. He studied philosophy for the diocese at the Archdiocesan Seminary of Tijuana and then completed his theological studies at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.
He was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Rev. Donald Montrose on Aug. 15, 1998 for service in the diocese of Stockton. He served as parochial vicar in the parishes of St. George in Stockton and Sacred Heart in Turlock. He was later called, in 2005, to be the founding pastor of Holy Family parish in Modesto. He was the pastor of St. Stanislaus Church in Modesto from 2008 to 2019 when he was named the Pastor of the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton.
“I am humbled and honored by my appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego,” said Bishop-Elect Bejarano. “It is a great sadness for me to leave the people and parishes whom I have served for the past 21 years. But I am joyful that I will be ministering in the Diocese of San Diego and serving this diverse and vibrant local Church.”
He will be consecrated as bishop on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at 2 at p.m. Bejarano will become only the second Hispanic auxiliary bishop in San Diego. Auxiliary Bishop Gilbert Chávez served in that capacity for 33 years before retiring in 2007.
Bishop-Elect Bejarano has served as chaplain to the Migrant Ministry in the Stockton diocese, where he celebrated Mass with and for the families and workers in the migrant camps along with providing the sacraments and counseling. He has been the spiritual director for the Spanish Catholic Radio in the area. He also served in leadership positions at the Stockton diocese as a member of the Presbyteral (Priest) Council, the Diaconate Board, the Preparatory Commission for the Diocesan Synod of 2005, and the College of Consultors.
Bishop-Elect Bejarano has two brothers, a sister and a mother who live in Texas. His father passed away in 1995.