The Diocese of Chalan Kanoa has entered its third year without a new bishop to lead the predominantly Catholic community of the Northern Marianas.
Rev. Fr. Ryan P. Jimenez, apostolic administrator for the diocese, said the CNMI will have a prelate “not in our time but in God's time.”
“If anything, it's a lesson for us to wait patiently. It's hard but I guess that's where the Lord wants us to be at this time,” he said in an interview.
Jimenez said the diocese joins Fiji and three other dioceses within the Pacific Region that are still awaiting a new bishop.
The apostolic administrator took charge of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in April 2009 after the retirement of Bishop Tomas A. Camacho became official.
Camacho stepped down as the highest ranking prelate in the CNMI on his 75th birthday on Sept. 18, 2008, based on Canon Law that requires a diocesan bishop who reaches that age to offer his resignation to the Holy Father in Rome.
Jimenez said the process of selecting a new bishop is long and begins with the Commonwealth's apostolic delegate in New Zealand.
“He is the pope's representative and he's the one doing all this work of inquiry and background check. He will be the one to let us know if there is a new bishop,” he said.
Jimenez noted that the entire Catholic community of the CNMI has been praying for a new bishop, having created the “Prayer for the Election of a New Bishop.”
“We ask you Father to be among us during this special time in the life of our church as we pray for a bishop to shepherd us. Send your Holy Spirit that your chosen bishop may continue the work of renewal in the Church and unite our parishes, priests and people in love, truth and wisdom,” the pray reads in part.
With the search for a new bishop now on its third year, Jimenez said, the diocese has already stopped asking for updates on the selection process.
“We just have to wait. Hopefully it will happen within this Year of Faith, but we don't know. We need to pray harder,” he added.
The Diocese of Chalan Kanoa is composed of 13 parishes: 10 on Saipan, including the Korean Catholic community; one on Tinian; and two on Rota.