Perez set to be installed as Philadelphia archbishop

Mark Abrams
February 18, 2020 - 4:00 am
Archbishop Nelson Perez

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A historic event takes place in Philadelphia on Tuesday, as a Hispanic cleric is elevated to the post of archbishop for the first time in the archdiocese’s 212-year history.

Archbishop-designate Nelson Perez, who most recently served as a bishop in the Diocese of Cleveland, will be welcomed to the cultural diversity of Philadelphia during a special Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on the Parkway.

Fr. Dennis Gill, rector of the cathedral, said Perez can hit the ground running.

“The bishop being installed was a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He knows the archdiocese, he loves the archdiocese. He has family, friends in the archdiocese. He ministered here. And, many of us know him,” he said.

Perez, 58, previously studied for the priesthood and became ordained in Philadelphia. He hopes the 20 years of relationships he developed here will help guide him.

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“It's not just about me,” said Perez. “It's not what I want to accomplish. It's what the Lord wants to accomplish in this local church as it comes through the people that God places around me. I'm just one person.”

Perez acknowledged that he has his work cut out for him. He said he’s prepared to make tough decisions on the future of financially troubled parishes and schools, but he will do so in consultation with those who will be affected by them.

During his installation, Gill said choirs will sing in several different languages — English, Spanish and Latin.

“Also, the languages of many different cultural groups will be spoken: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Tagalog, even American Sign Language will be used,” he added.

Gill said Archbishop Charles Chaput will ceremonially hand off Perez.

“Archbishop Chaput will lead Archbishop Perez to the cathedral. His taking that seat is symbolic of his role of presiding over the local church as its chief priest in teaching us, in sanctifying us, in governing us,” he explained.

About 2,000 people are expected to attend, including bishops, priests, religious officials and laity. The event is open to all. Perez’s installation gets underway at 2 p.m.