ROCKVILLE CENTRE – 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 here Wednesday. Introducing Bishops Nelson Perez and Robert Brennan, Bishop William Murphy 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 and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where Bishop Perez comes from. At the altar with Bishop Murphy were co-consecrators, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and Bishop Paul Walsh, a Rockville Centre auxiliary; three 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 other bishop 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 all 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,” and drawing laughter and applause from the congregation.
Retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan recalled Bishop Brennan’s days as secretary to his good friend, the late Rockville Centre Bishop James 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 both bishops being shared by family, friends and others whose lived have been touched by Bishops Perez and Brennan over the years.
“You are extremely lucky to have him,” said Kathy Gallagher, a parishioner at St. William’s in Philadelphia where Bishop Perez was pastor from 2002 to 2009. “He is a ‘do-er.’ He gets things done.”
“He’s going to make an excellent bishop,” said Joyce Costigan of Bishop Brennan. A parishioner of St. Mary of the Isle in Long Beach, where Bishop Brennan has been pastor since 2010, she said, “He makes you feel at ease no matter what crisis you are having.”
Following the Mass, a reception was held in St. Agnes’ parish center, where the two newly ordained bishops greeted well-wishers.