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Home News Once pastor at St. William, Nelson J. Perez will be Philadelphia’s next...

Once pastor at St. William, Nelson J. Perez will be Philadelphia’s next archbishop

Archbishop Charles Chaput last week held a news conference to announce that Pope Francis has selected Cleveland Bishop Nelson J. Perez as his successor.

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Chaput is 75, the traditional age for bishops to retire. He will move to St. Edmond’s Home for Children in Rosemont.

Archbishop-elect Perez’s Mass of Installation will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. He is a former pastor at St. William.

During his remarks at the Jan. 23 news conference, Perez apologized to the victims of the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

“I, and we, continue to pray for your healing,” he said.

In the question-and-answer session, he described some of the rhetoric surrounding immigrants as “not dignified.”

In response to a question, Chaput said his biggest challenges were the abuse scandal, finances and the closing of parishes and schools.

Perez, 58, was born in Miami and raised in North Jersey. He earned a psychology degree from Montclair State University and taught at a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1989.

Perez was founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization, served as adjunct professor at La Salle University for 14 years, was a board member of the Philadelphia Protestant Home and Lawndale Neighborhood Revitalization Project and was heavily involved in ministry to Hispanic Catholics.

In 1986–87, he was assistant to the chaplain at the former Philadelphia State Hospital (Byberry). His first assignment after ordination to the priesthood was as parochial vicar at St. Ambrose, in Olney, from 1989–93.

Perez served as pastor at St. William from 2002-09, replacing the popular and long-serving Monsignor James E. Mortimer. After leaving St. William, he was pastor of St. Agnes in West Chester.

Later, he served as auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Rockville Centre in New York, from 2012-17. He’s headed the Cleveland Diocese since 2017. ••

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