Second Guam Apostolic Vicar

Bishop Agustín José Bernaus y Serra, or Bishop Bernaus, was the second Apostolic Vicar of Guam. When Bishop Francisco Javier Vilá died in 1913, Bernaus was appointed to succeed him, and was given the titular diocese of Milopotamus.

Before being elevated to a diocese in 1965, Guam was an Apostolic Vicariate, which is a form of territorial jurisdiction for missions that are not yet a diocese. Because the bishop of an Apostolic Vicariate is not the bishop of a diocese, he is given an historic but extinct diocese called a titular diocese.

Bernaus was born in 1863 in Artesa de Segre province of Lérida in Spain. He joined the Capuchins in Ecuador in 1882 and was ordained there in 1889. He was a missionary there and afterwards in Costa Rica in 1906, where he was made Superior in 1909. He was a member of the Capuchin Province of Catalonia.

The Catalonian friars only remained on Guam for a few years. Their small number made it difficult for them to find the manpower for all their missionary duties. Bernaus served less than a year on Guam as the island mission was eventually transferred to the care of the Navarra Province of Capuchins, who had more resources, in 1914.

Bernaus was then assigned to the Apostolic Vicariate of Bluefields, Nicaragua, where he died in 1930.

By Eric Forbes, OFM Cap.

For further reading

Sinajana, Fray Eric de, OFM Cap. Historia de la Misión de Guam de los Capuchinos Españoles. Pamplona: Curia Provincial de Capuchinos, 2001.

Sullivan, Julius, OFM Cap. The Phoenix Rises: A Mission History of Guam. New York: Seraphic Mass Association, 1957.