The Most Reverend Héctor Felipe Vila, the sixth Bishop of Whitehorse, was born in Lima, Peru on September 17, 1962 and grew up in a Catholic family.
He came to Canada in 1979 with his father at the age of 16. After studying mechanical engineering at Toronto’s George Brown College, he had a short career in that field. He joined the Neocatechumenal Way in 1987 at the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Toronto. In 1988, he began studies in philosophy at the University of Toronto and in 1989 he entered Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary in Rome, Italy. He completed his studies in philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and later finished his Licentiate in Patristics (Study of Early Christian Writers) at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.
He was ordained a priest on May 14, 1995 by his Holiness, Saint John Paul II. He served as a deacon and associate pastor at St. Irenaeus Parish for two years and then at St. Patrick Parish for a year and a half in Italy. His early years as an ordained priest were marked by a whole year of a “honeymoon with God”.
Later on, he felt that he needed to reconcile his life with God’s plan. Through his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and reading the lives of the saints, especially the Holy Desert Fathers, he was able to discover who God is to him and to understand that in order to say “Yes” to God, we have to purify our hearts.
He arrived in Canada in October 1998 to serve as rector of the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary of Toronto. He served faithfully and fruitfully in this posting until his appointment to Whitehorse by Pope Francis, which was announced on Nov. 27, 2015.
In a vocation talk to the Serra Club, Father Héctor concluded by saying, “God gives blessings in many ways, filled with the same love, despite our weaknesses. God’s plan for holiness is how we resemble Him, especially loving our enemies.”
In regards to his appointment as the sixth Bishop of Whitehorse he said, “I look forward to this mission.”