ESL alumnus named bishop of Imperatriz, Brazil

Bishop Vilson on Brazilian television

SCJ served in the Philippines before being named bishop in 2010

On April 19, Bishop Vilsom Basso, a former SCJ missionary in the Philippines and an alumnus of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology’s ESL program, was named bishop of Imperatriz in northern Brazil. The diocese has a population of 518,000; approximately 80% are Catholic.

Born in Tuparendi, in south Brazil; Bishop Vilsom grew up with the SCJs; they ministered at his home parish. When he was just 10 years old he said that he already felt a call to the community. “Two SCJ priests came to my school to do a vocation campaign. Immediately I said, ‘Here I am Lord!.’ My family gave me their full support, so literally, here I am!”

Bishop Vilsom

Bishop Vilsom professed his first vows in 1979 and was ordained in 1985. HIs first assignment was in Maranhão. Bordering the Amazon in northwest Brazil, it is one of the country’s poorest states. Little did he know that years later he would return to the area as a bishop.

He served in parish and youth ministry in Brazil until 2006, when he entered the ESL program. In 2007 he went to the Philippines; one of his first assignments was on the volatile island of Mindano, the same area in which Fr. Giuseppe Pierantoni was kidnapped in 2001. In 2007, Bishop Vilsom was the subject of kidnapping rumors himself, forcing him to leave his mission and seek refuge at the novitiate. Writing to friends and family back home in Brazil, he said that it although it was a very challenging time for him, “it was also a special time to grow, to mature in my faith and confidence in our mission. Ecce Venio! I am always at peace when I pray that ‘Thy will be done.’”

He was on the formation team in the Philippines until 2010 when he was named bishop of Caxias do Maranhão (Brazil). He is currently president of the Episcopal Commission for Youth Pastoral Ministry of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.