For the first time in a century, Philadelphia-area Catholics have a homegrown archbishop in Nelson Pérez, who is being installed Tuesday afternoon in a grand ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
So who exactly is Nelson Pérez? Here are some facts about the new leader.
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Where was Nelson Pérez born and raised?
This is how the new archbishop put it in Spanish for Telemundo62 in an interview Monday: “Yo digo que fui hecho en Cuba, pero desempaquetado en Miami."
It means "I was conceived in Cuba, but born in Miami."
Where did Pérez go to school and when was he ordained a priest?
Pérez grew up in West New York, a small town on the Hudson River in Hudson County, New Jersey, across from Manhattan. He graduated with a psychology degree from Montclair State University in Essex County, New Jersey, in 1983.
He spent a few years teaching at a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico before entering the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1988 and a Master of Theology in 1989. He was ordained a priest at the seminary May 20, 1989.
What parishes did Pérez work in after he became a priest?
His assignments for the first 25 years of his life as a priest were within the Philadelphia Archdiocese, according to Catholic Philly. Here is where he worked:
- parochial vicar at St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia (1989-1993)
- assistant director of the archdiocesan Office for Hispanic Catholics (1990-1993)
- founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization (1993-2002)
- pastor of St. William Parish, Philadelphia (2002-2009)
- pastor of St. Agnes Parish, West Chester (2009-2012).
He also taught psychology and religious studies at La Salle University for nearly 15 years and developmental psychology for a year in 2011 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, according to Catholic Philly.
When was Nelson Pérez the priest promoted to bishop?
Multiple popes have promoted Pérez over the years. Pope John Paul II elevated Pérez to monsignor in 1998. Pope Benedict named him a prelate of honor in 2009.
He eventually left the Philadelphia Archdiocese when he was named an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, in 2012.
Pope Francis then chose Pérez as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland in 2017. He was installed Sept. 5 of that year.
What does Pérez enjoy about Philadelphia?
Two things came up in multiple interviews he has done since being chosen by Pope Francis as the new archbishop: Reading Terminal Market and the city's "vibrancy." He told Telemundo62 and NBC10 that the famous food market in Center City embodies that vibrancy with its bustling vendors and wide-ranging choices.