PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is welcoming a new leader. Bishop Nelson Perez, of the Diocese of Cleveland, will succeed Archbishop Charles Chaput as the leader of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
The 58-year-old will be the diocese’s 14th Bishop and 10th Archbishop, and the first Hispanic man to assume the role. Perez, who is from Miami, Florida, is the son of a Cuban immigrant.
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 in Center City Thursday morning. “I come back really with a great sense of gratitude and joy to serve alongside great bishops.”
Bishop Perez was installed in Cleveland in September 2017. Prior to that, he served as an Auxiliary Bishop in Rockville Centre, New York.
He has extensive ties to the Philadelphia area, having studied at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, where he later taught classes in developmental psychology. He also taught psychology and religious studies courses at LaSalle University.
Bishop Perez has had numerous assignments in the Delaware Valley over the years. His very first appointment after ordination to the priesthood was Saint Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia.
“Once a Philadelphia priest, always a Philadelphia priest. So the part of me that has that identity inside of me cannot wrap its head around being the Archbishop of Philadelphia. It just doesn’t compute, but it is what the Lord wants and what the Holy Father wants. When I left in 2012, I never really thought I would be back, although I never really left either. I left ministerially but I didn’t leave humanly. My closest friends are here, my classmates,” Perez said.
Perez succeeds Archbishop Charles Chaput, who announced his retirement in September just before turning 75, per church rules. Chaput has served the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for more than eight years now, leading the diocese through the church’s sexual assault and financial crisis, and also the historic 2015 World Meeting of Families when the city hosted Pope Francis.
In the meantime, Chaput will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese.
The Archbishop-elect’s mass of installation will take place on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
CBS3’s Trang Do, Joe Holden and Dan Koob contributed to this report.