A number of Carmelite friars are invited by the Pope to serve the Church as bishops around the world. The most recent episcopal ordination of a Carmelite took place on 15th August 2020, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when Luis Francisco Miranda Rivera, O.Carm., was made Bishop of Fajardo-Humacao, the diocese which covers the northeast of the Caribbean island of Puetro Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Maps showing the location of Puerto Rico, and Fajardo-Humacao Diocese
Bishop Luis is the second bishop of Fajardo-Humacao Diocese which was created in 2008. Catholics make up approximately a third of the diocese's total population of some 300,000 people. The diocese includes the tropical rainforest of El Yunque National Park.
Bishop Luis Miranda Rivera, O.Carm.
Luis Miranda Rivera was born at Santurce in Puerto Rico in 1954. He joined the Carmelites in what is now the Provincial Commissariat of the Antilles, a mission of the Order's Province of Aragon, Castile and Valencia. Following his profession of religious vows in 1980 his studies included Philosophy at Bayamón Central University in Puerto Rico, and Theology at the Pontifical University of Salamance in Spain, where he completed a Licenciate in Theology on the subject of Religious Life. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. For the last 15 years he has lived in the Carmelite community of San Juan de Puerto Rico, and has served as pastor in the Parish of St. Teresita de San Juan in Puerto Rico, as well as Episcopal Vicar of the San Juan-Santurce Zone. At the time of his episcopal nomination he was serving as the National Delegate of the flourishing Carmelite Third Order Secular in Puerto Rico, which has 17 Lay Carmelite communities.
Ordinarily the consecration of Bishop Luis would have taken place at the Cathedral of Santiago Apóstol in Fajardo, or the Co-Cathedral of Dulce Nombre de Jesus in Humacao, but due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Mass was held in the more spacious Marcelo Trujillo Panisse Coliseum in Humacao.
Left: The laying-on of hands at Bishop Luis' episcopal ordination.
Right: Bishop Luis prays before a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The episcopal ordination was presided over by the Metropolitan Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico, Monsignor Roberto Octavio González Nieves, O.F.M. The apostolic mandate of His Holiness Pope Francis. was read by the Apostolic Delegate for Puerto Rico, Monsignor Ghaleb Moussa Abdallah Bader. The Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Fajardo-Humacao, Bishop Eusebio Ramos, was tasked with introducing those attending the celebration, including his brother bishops from the Episcopal College of Puerto Rico, and the civil authorities.
Ordinarily such an event would be attended by the Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Fr. Míceál O'Neill, O.Carm., but due to the travel restrictions brought about by the pandemic, his words of congratulations on behalf of the entire Order were read by Fr. Jorge Luis Rivera Maldonado, O.Carm., Commissary of the Antilles. Active participants in the celebration included the parish Carmelite communities of Añasco, Mayagüez, Ciales, Morovis, Santa Teresita, and the Luis Llorens Torres Residential Home.
Bishop Luis with (left) his brother bishops and (right) his brother Carmelites.
The new bishop requested, in his final address, the apostolic zeal of the prophet Elijah to accompany the diocese (cf. 1 Kings 19:7-8). He also made mention of his 40th anniversary of consecrated life in the Carmelite Order, and the jubilee of the first centenary of the presence of the Carmelite friars in Puerto Rico.
Bishop Luis invited all those present to be a "Church which goes out", ready to work in evangelization, and, by its apostolic communion, to make the Kingdom of God visible. He pointed out that he dreams of a united diocese, where everyone feels included, and in which each person - according to his or her particular vocation (laity, religious, and diocesan clergy) - helps the growth of the People of God. As a challenge, he underlined his desire to serve and to listen to everyone, to found a contemplative women's Carmel in the diocese, to extend the communities of the Carmelite Third Order Secular, to promote the domestic church, and to work - through a spirituality of communion - with the ecumenical movement of Puerto Rico.
Please pray for Bishop Luis as he takes up his new ministry of sherpherding the people of Fajardo-Humacao.
Text: CITOC Carmelite News; Dr. Johan Bergström-Allen, T.O.C.