WASHINGTON (July 3, 2000) -- Pope John Paul II created the new diocese of Laredo, Texas, and named Galveston-Houston Auxiliary Bishop James A. Tamayo, 50, as its first Bishop. The new diocese will bring the number of dioceses in Texas to fifteen.
The Pope also appointed Monsignor Arthur J. Serratelli, Rector of the College Seminary, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, as Titular Bishop of Enera and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.
Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, made the announcements.
The new Diocese of Laredo is coextensive with seven counties in South Texas: Jim Hogg, Webb, Zapata, La Salle, Dimmit, Maverick and Zavala. It is formed out of the Diocese of Corpus Christi and the Archdiocese of San Antonio, with three and a half counties taken from each.
The Diocese of Laredo comprises 10,888 square miles and stretches for 270 miles along the Rio Grande. It has a total population of 265,271, of which 183,889 are Catholic. There are 27 parishes, 19 mission churches, 44 priests, 21 permanent deacons, 79 women religious and 10 religious brothers.
St. Augustine Church has been designated the Cathedral for the new diocese. This church dates back to 1775 and the present structure was built in 1872.
Bishop Tamayo will be installed as the first Bishop of Laredo on August 9 in the Laredo Convention Center.
In commenting on the new diocese, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston said, "The Bishops of Texas are grateful to the Holy Father for establishing a new diocese in Texas. It will serve the large number of Catholics who live along the Rio Grande on the United States side of the border. I congratulate Bishop Tamayo on being chosen as the first Bishop of Laredo. He knows the area well and will give energetic leadership in organizing a new diocese."
James Anthony Tamayo was born on October 23, 1949, in Brownsville. He studied at the University of St. Thomas, where he earned bachelor and master degrees, and at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston.
He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi on June 11, 1976. He was assistant pastor at St. Patrick church, 1976-1981, Corpus Christi Cathedral, 1981-1982, and St. Pius X parish, 1982-1985, all in Corpus Christi.
Bishop Tamayo was serving as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, Laredo, when he was named Titular Bishop of Ita and Auxiliary Bishop of Galveston-Houston, January 26, 1993.
The new Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, Arthur Joseph Serratelli, was born in that city on April 18, 1944. He studied at Seton Preparatory School, Seton Hall University, and the North American College in Rome, and was ordained to the priesthood on December 20, 1968.
Bishop-designate Serratelli was assistant pastor at St. Anthony's in Belleville, 1969-1970, and professor at Immaculate Conception Seminary, South Orange, 1970-1972. From 1972 to 1977 he studied in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he earned a Doctorate in Theology, and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
He has been professor of Sacred Scripture at Immaculate Conception Seminary since 1977, and in 1997 was named Rector of the College Seminary.