The Cuban Archbishop of Philadelphia
Nelson Perez is the first Latino archbishop in the history of the city, and is expected to officially begin his post on Feb. 18.
Long before he was named the new Archbishop-elect of Philadelphia, Nelson J. Perez started his journey working in the Catholic Church in this very city.
On May 20, 1989, Perez was ordained to the priesthood of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He spent the first four years after his ordination as a curate at Saint Ambrose Parish in Northeast Philadelphia.
After other prominent roles that included auxiliary bishop of the Rockville Centre in New York, and most recently, the Bishop of Cleveland since September 2017, Perez will come full circle back to the City of Brotherly Love, more than 30 years later.
I am deeply grateful to the @Pontifex for appointing me as the next archbishop of @ArchPhilly. It is with great joy tinged with a sense of sadness that I accept the appointment - joy that I will be returning to serve @ArchPhilly, sadness in that I will be leaving @DioceseofCLE.
— Bishop Nelson Perez (@BishopNPerez) January 23, 2020
“I’m back to the church, the archdiocese that formed me and ordained me, and walked with me,” Perez said during a press conference at the Philadelphia Archdiocesan headquarters last week. “I come back really with a great sense of gratitude and joy to serve alongside great bishops.”
As he succeeds the retiring Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, Perez will be the city’s 14th Bishop, 10th Archbishop and the first Latino to fill this role.
With the growing Latino community in the city, it will be interesting to see how the Latino community will interact with the Catholic church after Perez’s appointment.
According to a 2010 U.S. Census report, 21% of the Hispanic population in the city were registered Catholics, totaling more than 61,000 people.
Born in Miami to Cuban immigrants, Perez grew up in West New York, New Jersey.
Before entering into the priesthood, Perez was very active in education. After graduating from Montclair State University with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology, he taught at a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico, before later entering Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and earning a master of divinity and master of arts in theology degrees.
Perez is expected to officially begin his tenure as Archbishop of Philadelphia on Tuesday, Feb. 18.