The Diocese of Cleveland has a new bishop.
Pope Francis named Bishop Nelson J. Perez, auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, New York, as the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. A press conference announcing his appointment will be streamed live at 9 a.m. today from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Cleveland on the Diocese of Cleveland website.
Bishop-designate Perez’s appointment was announced at 6 a.m. today in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
All are welcome to attend the noon Mass today at St. John Cathedral. Toledo Bishop Daniel Thomas, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cleveland, will be the main celebrant and Bishop-designate Perez will be the homilist.
Bishop Perez, 56, is a native of Miami, Florida.
He will be installed as the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland at a solemn Mass on Sept. 5 at St. John Cathedral. Evening prayer will be celebrated on Sept. 4.
“I am so very happy to be here with you, to learn from you, grow with you and serve you with pastoral devotion,” said Bishop-designate Perez. He said he welcomes interaction with those in the Diocese of Cleveland.
“Please don’t hesitate to say hello if you see me as I venture out, eager to experience my new home. God bless you all,” Bishop-designate Perez said.
Until the new bishop is installed, Bishop Thomas will continue to lead the Diocese of Cleveland. He assumed leadership duties for the Diocese of Cleveland on Dec. 28, 2016, when Bishop Richard Lennon was granted early retirement due to health concerns.
“In Bishop Nelson Perez, the Diocese of Cleveland is receiving a faithful, enthusiastic and joyful shepherd for Christ and his Church,” said Bishop Thomas. “With his warm personality, Bishop Perez will endear himself to all who meet him. Bishop Perez will find in Cleveland a true spiritual home filled with dedicated and devoted people, a family of faith that I am grateful to have had the privilege to serve. I personally look forward to working with Bishop Perez in announcing the Gospel in Northern Ohio,” Bishop Thomas added.
Bishop-designate Perez earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Montclair State University and taught at Colegio la Piedad, a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico, prior to entering Saint Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he earned master of divinity and Master of Arts in theology degrees in 1988 and 1989, respectively.
He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1989. In 1998, he was named a chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II and Prelate of Honor in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.
In June 2012, Bishop Perez was named auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He received episcopal ordination on July 25, 2012.
Since then, Bishop-designate Perez has served as episcopal vicar for the Easter Vicariate of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and vicar for Hispanic ministry for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
While in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, he was pastor of St. William Parish in Philadelphia and pastor of St. Agnes Parish in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was the founding director of the Catholic Institute of Evangelization, an archdiocesan center for adult faith formation development and lay ministry training.
In addition, Bishop Perez served as parochial vicar of St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia and assistant director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics. He taught courses in religion and psychology as an adjunct faculty member at La Salle University and has traveled within the U.S. offering conferences on evangelization, lay ministry, leadership development, retreats and parish days of recollection.
While in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Bishop Perez was a member of the corporate board of directors for Catholic Health Services; vice chair of Catholic Charities; served on the Priests Personnel Board, the Presbyteral Council and Diocesan Advisory Committee for Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
As a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he chairs the Bishops’ Subcommittee for Hispanic Affairs and is a former member of the Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Campaign for Human Development.
The Diocese of Cleveland consists of 3,414 square miles that includes eight counties in Northeast Ohio. Total population is 2,774,113 people, of which 677,219, or 24 percent, are Catholic.