On November 18, Rome announced the appointment of a coadjutor bishop with the right of succession. In lay terms, that means a bishop to assist the current head of the diocese, Amando Samo, and to succeed him when he retires.
This announcement was long awaited by the diocese. Bishop Amando, who replaced Bishop Martin Neylon in 1995, has handled the Diocese of the Carolines by himself for the last 22 years despite the debilitating effects of a stroke some years ago.
Fr. Julio Angkel, the new appointee, is from Chuuk, where he was ordained a priest in December 1983. [AC 8-32: Clergy gathered outside the cathedral after Fr. Julio’s ordination]
Born on Parem, Fr. Julio spent most of his ministry in Chuuk, but he has had experience in other parts of the Pacific as well. He was on Guam for a time before continuing his priestly training in Manila and Fiji. Soon after his ordination, he visited most of the other islands in Chuuk to introduce himself to the people he would serve for the next three decades. Not long ago Fr. Julio also served as vicar of Pohnpei for three years.
Wherever he went, Fr. Julio brought a sense of down-to-earth pastoral concern. Those of us who watched from a distance had to admire the ease with which he dealt with his people. As he walked with them, his heart was clearly theirs.
The date of Fr. Julio’s consecration has not yet been decided, but many are putting their bets on February 2, the anniversary of the elevation of the Carolines to the status of a diocese. Meanwhile, we all support our old friend Julio and the even older friend (Amando) that he will assist in the years to come.