ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (CNS) — At a joy-filled liturgy rich in symbolic tradition, the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s two newest auxiliary bishops were ordained at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre July 25.
Introducing Bishops Nelson J. Perez and Robert J. Brennan, Bishop William F. Murphy, who heads the diocese, instructed the congregation to “see in these two priests the successors of the first apostles.”
The cathedral was filled with members of the Perez and Brennan families, friends and co-workers, along with close to 200 priests and deacons from the Rockville Centre Diocese, where Bishop Brennan is vicar general and a pastor, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which is Bishop Perez’s home archdiocese.
At the altar with Bishop Murphy were co-consecrators, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop Paul H. Walsh of Rockville Centre; two cardinals and dozens of other bishops.
Following ancient tradition, Bishop Murphy laid his hands on his new auxiliaries’ heads, conferring the power of the Holy Spirit. In a show of collegiality, each of the other bishops in attendance followed suit.
Bishop Murphy also anointed each new bishop with holy oil and gave them the symbols of episcopal office — the ring, miter and crosier. When this was finished, Bishop Murphy led the two new bishops to the chairs on either side of him, joining them with the other concelebrating bishops. As they turned to face the congregation, Bishops Perez and Brennan were greeted with sustained applause.
Both bishops made brief remarks, in English and Spanish, at the end of the Mass.
Bishop Perez said he could sum up the feelings in his heart in one word — “gratitude.”
“I thank our loving God for the gift of calling me to serve Him as a priest and in this new role,” he said, also thanking the bishops and cardinals and priests at the ordination. He introduced his family, which included his parents, Emma and David; his brother Martin and Martin’s wife, Rosie; his nephews David, Martin and Michael, “and my brother David, who shares this moment from heaven.”
“To all the people of this great diocese, thank you for your warm welcome, especially to all who have worked so hard to make this such a faith-filled and joyful celebration. I am truly blessed to be now among you,” said Bishop Perez.
Bishop Brennan also expressed his gratitude and made a request: “Please, I ask your prayers. I ask you to pray that I might respond to this new call of the Lord — humbly, generously and joyfully.”
Joking that it would take too long to introduce his whole family, Bishop Brennan said, “I can say nothing better than that I am the son of Bob and Pat Brennan.”
When he said to Bishop Murphy that “Nelson and I are ready to get to work,” Bishop Murphy interrupted saying, “Good,” drawing laughter and applause from the congregation.
Cardinal Edward M. Egan, retired archbishop of New York, recalled Bishop Brennan’s days as secretary to his good friend, the late Rockville Centre Bishop James T. McHugh.
“I would come to see him, and the door was always answered by a young and wonderful priest (Bishop Brennan) who could not have served that bishop any better than if it was his own father.”
There were plenty of other stories about Bishops Perez and Brennan being shared by family, friends and others whose lives have been touched by them over the years.
“You are extremely lucky to have him,” said Kathy Gallagher, a parishioner at St. William Parish in Philadelphia, where Bishop Perez was pastor from 2002 to 2009. “He is a ‘doer.’ He gets things done,” she told The Long Island Catholic, Rockville Centre’s diocesan newspaper.
Iapalucci is a reporter for The Long Island Catholic.