Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
ST. AUGUSTINE -- As beaming family and friends looked on proudly from the front rows, Bishop Felipe de Jesus Estévez took his cathedra – or seat -- as bishop of St. Augustine during a vespers service June 1 in the diocese's historic cathedral.
It was the first of two events marking his installation as the 10th bishop of Florida's mother diocese, whose seat is in a city that has long been a place of pilgrimage for its new bishop.
“Since he was a little boy, I told him he was going to be a priest, and then a bishop,” said Rosa Cardenas, a native of Jovellanos, Cuba – Bishop Estévez’s home town – and a member of St. Brendan Parish in Miami.
She admitted, however, that the appointment to St. Augustine she did not predict.
“I have cried today like a baby, seeing him there,” Cardenas said. “That boy is my life. The only thing bad is that he has left us.”
Cardenas was part of a large contingent from Miami who made the journey to St. Augustine to share in the joy of Bishop Estévez’s installation. Many of them knew him as children in Cuba, or shared a family kinship. They joined Bishop Estévez’s family – his mother Estrella, his brother Carlos, his sister Marty and dozens of nieces and nephews – in the front rows of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine.
Also filling the pews of the cathedral were Bishop Estévez’s brother priests from Miami, many of them his former students when he was rector and professor at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.
All agreed that the move to St. Augustine was divinely inspired.
“He is very happy to be here,” said Sonia Toledo, a cousin who lives in Miami.
The move also puts him closer to his family, who live in the St. Petersburg area.
“Now he’s closer,” said his mother, Estrella. “I always thought if they transferred him to another place, it would never be for him like St. Augustine.”
She added her own prediction: “He has done a good job as auxiliary bishop and now he will do an even better job as bishop of St. Augustine.”
The official Mass of installation takes place Thursday, June 2, beginning at 2 p.m. at St. Joseph Church in Jacksonville. It will be broadcast live on EWTN and live-streamed on the archdiocesan website, www.miamiarch.org and heard on the archdiocesan radio station Radio Paz 830 AM. EWTN plans to rebroadcast it at midnight Friday and Catholic TV will air it at noon and 8 p.m. on Friday, June 3.
To see a slideshow of vespers photos, go to the Diocese of St. Augustine website.