Pope Francis appoints Elkins Park pastor an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia

Father Efren V. Esmilla, pastor of Saint James the Great parish in Elkins Park, was recently appointed an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia by Pope Francis.

An auxiliary bishop is a bishop assigned by the Holy See to assist a resident bishop or archbishop in the pastoral care and administration of a diocese. Auxiliary bishops help administer the sacraments, especially confirmation, and often represent the resident bishop at various types of functions.

Father Esmilla is also a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and has been with St. James’ parish since 2020.

“I am greatly humbled and honored to be chosen by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” Esmilla said during his appointment on Friday, December 8. “My great hope is that our beloved Archdiocese of Philadelphia will continue to grow spiritually and to grow in the number of souls as we all strive to be better missionary disciples for Jesus Christ in the world around us.”

Esmilla earned a bachelor’s degree from San Beda College in Manila in 1984 and later a Master of Divinity degree from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. A native of the Philippines, he speaks English, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Latin, and Portuguese.

From the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops’ announcement:

Father Esmilla was born June 18, 1962, in Nagcarlan, Laguna in the Philippines. He has a bachelor’s degree from San Beda College in San Miguel, Manila, Philippines (1984) and a master of divinity from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary (1992). Father Esmilla was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1993.

Bishop-elect Esmilla’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saint John Chrysostom parish in Wallingford (1993-2001), Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Philadelphia (2001-2003), Saint Martha parish in Philadelphia (2005-2006); pastor of Our Lady of Hope parish in Philadelphia (2006-2020); assistant director for pastoral formation (2003-2004) and director of the spirituality year (2004-2005) at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Other diocesan assignments include serving as chaplain for the Filipino diocesan apostolate (2005 to present); spiritual director of the Legion of Mary (2001 to present); and membership in the archdiocesan continuing formation committee for priests (2001-2004, and 2005-2008), council of priests (2005-2008, and 2017-2020), college of consultors (2006-2011), priest personnel board (2017-2022), and president of the presbyteral council (2021). Since 2020, he has served as pastor of Saint Martin of Tours parish in Philadelphia, while also serving since 2021 as pastor of Saint James parish in Elkins Park. Bishop-elect Esmilla speaks English, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Latin, and Portuguese.

For all the latest news, follow us on Facebook or sign up for Glenside Local’s “Daily Buzz” newsletter here.

Photo: CatholicPhilly.com