Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Cirilo B. Flores of Orange, Calif., as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San Diego.

The appointment was announced Jan. 4 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

As coadjutor, Bishop Flores --- one of 28 Hispanic bishops actively serving in the U.S. --- will automatically succeed Bishop Robert H. Brom upon his retirement or death. The 73-year-old Bishop Brom has headed the San Diego Diocese since 1990.

Bishop Brom said in a statement that the Mass officially welcoming Bishop Flores into the diocese would take place Feb. 13. He said Bishop Flores would "assist me until my retirement in 2013, at which time he will become the fifth bishop of San Diego."

In a statement, Bishop Flores thanked Pope Benedict for "this wonderful and challenging assignment" and said he looked forward to "working with Bishop Brom and assisting him during this time of transition, which will be a time for me to learn about the local church of San Diego and Imperial counties."

But he also said he would miss the Orange Diocese, where he had spent "my entire priesthood." 

"I was formed as a priest by the parishioners I was privileged to serve for 18 years; I learned how to serve by the example of the priests I have known in Orange," he said.

Bishop Flores also thanked Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange "for his personal support" and his "vision during this historic time for the diocese."

In his own statement, Bishop Brown praised Bishop Flores as "a faithful shepherd and a trusted adviser to us here" and said he would be "a blessing and an inspiration to all in San Diego."

Born June 20, 1948, in Corona (then a part of the San Diego Diocese, now in the San Bernardino Diocese), he attended St. Edward School and Notre Dame High School in Riverside and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles before earning a law degree from Stanford University Law School.

He practiced law for 10 years, specializing in business litigation, before entering St. John Seminary in Camarillo to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Orange on June 8, 1991.

After ordination he served as parochial vicar in several parishes until his appointment in 2000 as pastor of St. Anne Church in Santa Ana. He was named pastor of St. Norbert Church in Orange in 2008, but in January 2009 was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the diocese.

Ordained a bishop March 19, 2009, Bishop Flores assumed many responsibilities of Bishop Jaime Soto, who in 2008 was installed as bishop of Sacramento. Fluent in Spanish and English, Bishop-elect Flores has ancestral roots in Mexico --- all four of his grandparents were from Mexico and his father was a native of Sinaloa, Mexico.

In Orange, Bishop Flores served as diocesan vicar for charities and as a member of the diocesan finance council, the bishop's Council of Priests, the Priests Personnel Board and the editorial council of the Orange County Catholic diocesan newspaper.

On the national level, Bishop Flores was a member of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee on Latin America and Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. For the California Catholic Conference he is chairman on the Committee on Religious Liberty and episcopal liaison for the Region Eleven Council of Priest Senates.

The Diocese of San Diego was created in 1936 along with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles; previously, the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego had served Catholics of California’s eight southernmost counties (Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial, San Bernardino and Riverside) since 1922.

San Diego was divided in 1978 with the creation of the San Bernardino Diocese (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties). Currently, the San Diego Diocese covers 8,852 square miles in San Diego and Imperial Counties and reports a Catholic population of approximately 982,000, 32 percent of a total population of 3.1 million.

The diocese previously was led by Bishops Charles F. Buddy (1936-66), Francis J. Furey (1966-69), and Leo T. Maher (1969-90) prior to Bishop Brom, who had been named a coadjutor bishop for San Diego in 1989.


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