Pope Francis names new bishop in Timor-Leste

Bishop-elect known for being smart, sociable and even-tempered
Pope Francis names new bishop in Timor-Leste

Bishop-elect Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili during procession at Mass Jan. 31 in Dili. (Photo by Thomas Ora)

Pope Francis has appointed Salesian Father Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, the provincial superior of Timor-Leste, as the new bishop of Dili, replacing Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva, who died of brain cancer last April.

The appointment was announced by Msgr. Ionut Paul Strejac, the Vatican's charge d'affaires in Timor-Leste, during a Jan. 30 press conference at the bishop's residence in Dili.

The diocese has been administered by Bishop Basilio do Nascimiento of Baucau since Feb. 9, 2015, after Bishop da Silva stepped down. The deceased bishop replaced Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, who was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his opposition to the Indonesian often brutal occupation of Timor-Leste's occupation.

Bishop-elect da Silva's ordination Mass is scheduled for March 19.

"Being a bishop is not an easy task. Hence I ask from each Catholic of Timor-Leste, priests, brothers, nuns, to pray for me," Bishop-elect da Silva told Timorese Catholics during Mass on Jan. 31.

Born Nov. 27, 1967 in Venilale, Bishop-elect da Silva attended Salesian-run primary and secondary schools. He later joined the Salesians and was ordained a priest on Dec. 18, 1998. After his ordination Bishop-elect da Silva served as formation director and novice master for the Salesians, a parish priest and director of a technical school. He also has a licentiate in spirituality from the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome.

His younger brother, Father Gui do Carmo da Silva, is also a Salesian priest.

Fausto Belo, 54, a retired high school teacher from Baucau, said the bishop-elect was known for being smart, sociable and even-tempered.

"He always smiles and often helps his friends who are in difficult times," he said.

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