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3 new bishops, all with local ties

St. Martha parishioners Rick and Helen Konstance with Bishop Efren Esmilla, current pastor at St. Martin of Tours and a parochial vicar at St. Martha from 2005-06.
Bishop Chris Cooke with the Rev. Jay Horan, Salesians of Don Bosco, and Kathy McDonough, a St. Cecilia parishioner.
Bishop Keith Chylinski
Bishop Efren Esmilla
Bishop Chris Cooke, with Missionaries of Charity Sisters.
Bishop Esmilla’s Coat of Arms
Chylinski, Esmilla, Cooke.

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez last week ordained Most Reverend Efren V. Esmilla, Keith J. Chylinski and Christopher Cooke – all with current or former ties to Northeast parishes – as auxiliary bishops in front of a capacity congregation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Like all bishops, auxiliaries are successors to the Apostles.

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These men are the 28th, 29th and 30th auxiliary bishops in the history of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

They will join Most Reverend John J. McIntyre, who has served in that capacity since 2010, and succeed recently retired Auxiliary Bishops Most Reverend Edward Deliman and Michael Fitzgerald, along with Most Reverend Timothy Senior, who had served as an Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia from 2009 until the summer of 2023 when he was appointed the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg by Pope Francis.

Pérez introduced the new Auxiliary Bishops at a news conference on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Dec. 8, 2023).

Esmilla, 61, a native of the Philippines, was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua in 1993. He was a parochial vicar at Maternity BVM from 2001-03 and St. Martha from 2005-06. He served as Regional Dean of Deanery 12 (Lower Northeast Philadelphia) from 2017-22. Since 2021, he has been pastor at St. Martin of Tours.

Chylinski, 52, is a native of Schenectady, New York. He was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Justin Rigali in 2007. His first assignment was as a parochial vicar at St. Anselm (2007-11).

Cooke, 50, grew up in Saint Vincent de Paul Parish (Richboro). Prior to entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Cooke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1996. He then worked in the field of chemical manufacturing and design. He was ordained to the priesthood by Rigali in 2006. He was a parochial vicar at St. Martin of Tours from 2008-12.

During the Mass, which featured seven choirs, the new bishops walked around the Cathedral aisles holding the letters written by Pope Francis appointing them to the role. The congregation applauded loudly.

“You would think it was the pope walking around,” Perez joked.

The Mass also included the Anointing of the Head by Perez and the Laying on of Hands by all bishops in attendance. Perez presented each new bishop with a ring during The Handing On of The Insignia and a pastoral staff (crosier), followed by the Fraternal Kiss from all bishops.

“They look great, don’t they,” Perez said of the new bishops.

Esmilla, who entered the seminary in 1987, gave a shoutout to the “class of 1993.” He described it as a day of solemnity and gratitude, adding that he is thankful for the confidence shown in him by Pope Francis and saying, “Muchas gracias,” to Perez. He’s looking forward to serving under Perez, whom he called “Philadelphia’s Good Shepherd.”

The role of an auxiliary bishop is to assist the diocesan bishop by sharing in his pastoral and administrative work and to act in his name.

“Please pray for us,” Esmilla said. ••

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