Father Bongard’s New Boss

Charlie M. '23, Staff Writer

Bishop Nelson Perez (of Cleveland) has just been named the new Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by Pope Francis.  He will replace Archbishop Charles Chaput who will retire after 8 years.  I got a chance to hear from someone who attended the announcement of Bishop Perez’s new assignment.

Nelson Jesus Perez was born on June 16, 1961 in Miami, Florida.  His parents were Cuban and Spanish and was raised in New York where he later studied Psychology at Montclair State University.  After graduating from college, he went to Puerto Rico where taught at a Catholic elementary school.

In the 1980’s, he first came to Philadelphia to attend Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary where he earned his Theology degree and was ordained a priest.  From there he had his first few assignments in Philadelphia serving at Saint Ambrose Parish, Saint William Parish and Saint Agnes Parish in West Chester.  He also taught at LaSalle University as well as Saint Charles Seminary.  From the Philadelphia area he was appointed as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Center in New York and most recently the Bishop of Cleveland. As he begins his new position in Philadelphia he said, “it’s awesome to be back in Philadelphia with people who are faith-filled, who love the Lord and love the church.”

Father Bongard shared information with me that Bishop Perez is very much a man of the people, is extremely down to earth and very humble.  Bishop Perez is already very well known and loved by the people in Philadelphia, but he is looking to get more involved in this community to serve and guide the city.  At his introduction on January 23rd he said, “Once a Philadelphia priest, always a Philadelphia priest, stating that he is looking forward to visiting more of the parishes, schools and churches in the city.  He also said that Reading Terminal Market is one of his favorite places to go for lunch.  He will be installed as Archbishop on February 18th at a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul.  Maybe he will celebrate with a sandwich from the market after mass!