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Amazement, emotion highlight priests' ordination

Three millennials, all Hispanic, became archdiocese's newest priests on Mother's Day weekend

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Newly ordained Father Enzo Rosario Prendes smiles while imparting blessings to well-wishers after the Mass where Archbishop Thomas Wenski ordained him and two others, May 7, 2022 at St. Mary Cathedral.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Newly ordained Father Enzo Rosario Prendes smiles while imparting blessings to well-wishers after the Mass where Archbishop Thomas Wenski ordained him and two others, May 7, 2022 at St. Mary Cathedral.

MIAMI | Pedro Estrada held back tears as he stood next to his son, who in a few moments would become a priest.

“As his father, I couldn’t believe it,” Estrada said of newly ordained Father Agustin Estrada. “To have a son who is a priest, it’s a gift.”

Father Estrada, 30, was one of the three menArchbishop Thomas Wenski ordained May 7, 2022, before a throng of family members, friends and well-wishers along with more than 100 priests and five bishops. Hundreds more watched the ceremony via livestream on the archdiocesan website, including someone from India who messaged the archdiocese via YouTube.

His son’s perseverance through 11 years of seminary formation was surprising, Estrada said, since Agustin was “very restless” and the most “dating-inclined” of his six children.

Aside from creating “a little church” within the family, “we did nothing for him to become a priest. God made him a priest,” the elder Estrada said.

Father Cesar Betancourt’s sister-in-law, Regina Vasquez, said his family views his ordination as “a manifest miracle.”

“I thought they would kick him out,” said his father, Francisco Betancourt, who described his son, 37, as a fan of “anything that moves,” “a revolutionary,” and someone who is “not afraid of anything.”

“God saved him from the streets,” said María Abreu, Father Betancourt’s aunt on his mother’s side. She added that she got “shivers” during the ordination when she thought about her sister, who died in 2007.

“She was always after him,” Abreu said, attributing her nephew’s conversion and eventual ordination to his mother’s influence from heaven.

Newly ordained Father Agustin Estrada hugs his mom, Gregoria Estrada, while waiting to impart first blessings to well-wishers. He was one of three men ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Thomas Wenski May 7, 2022 at St. Mary Cathedral.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Newly ordained Father Agustin Estrada hugs his mom, Gregoria Estrada, while waiting to impart first blessings to well-wishers. He was one of three men ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Thomas Wenski May 7, 2022 at St. Mary Cathedral.

Newly ordained Father Cesar Betancourt laughs before imparting a blessing to a well-wisher after his ordination May 7, 2022 at St. Mary Cathedral.

Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC

Newly ordained Father Cesar Betancourt laughs before imparting a blessing to a well-wisher after his ordination May 7, 2022 at St. Mary Cathedral.

Father Betancourt describes his mother’s death as a key event in his life, along with the death of his grandmother in 1998.

She “is happy in heaven,” said another aunt, Toñita Betancourt, speaking of her mother, Father Betancourt’s grandmother, “who was 1,000 percent Catholic.”

“So moved. We have no words,” Toñita Betancourt added.

Father Enzo Rosario Prendes, 29, did not have blood relatives present at his ordination. He is an only child and his mother could not come from Cuba in time.

But parishioners of St. Hugh, in Coconut Grove, “became his family here in Miami,” said Father Luis Largaespada, the church’s pastor, who vested Father Rosario Prendes in his priestly robes during the ceremony.

“The community gifted him with his chalice,” Father Largaespada added, and the church’s sacristan, Silvia Santana, stood beside Father Rosario Prendes, representing his mother.

“He’s a love,” Santana said. “Very hardworking, very beautiful.”

The new priests will begin their service as parochial vicars at the following parishes: Father Betancourt at St. John Neumann in Miami; Father Estrada at St. Gregory in Plantation; and Father Rosario Prendes at Sts. Peter and Paul in Miami.

Posing outside St. Mary Cathedral for their official photos with Archbishop Thomas Wenski, from left, are newly ordained Fathers Agustin Estrada, Enzo Prendes and Cesar Betancourt, May 7, 2022.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Posing outside St. Mary Cathedral for their official photos with Archbishop Thomas Wenski, from left, are newly ordained Fathers Agustin Estrada, Enzo Prendes and Cesar Betancourt, May 7, 2022.

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