Saturday, December 9, 2017
Tom Tracy - Florida Catholic
Photography: TOM TRACY | FC
WESTON | On the eve of his ordination as the newest auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami, Father Enrique Delgado gathered for solemn vespers with over 1,000 of his closest friends: the parish community of St. Katharine Drexelin western Broward County.
Held Dec. 6 in the church whose long-awaited construction was overseen by the Peruvian-born priest, the vespers ceremony also brought family members and civic dignitaries together to pray for the new bishop.
The Vatican had announced Pope Francis’ decision to ordain the priest to the episcopacy Oct. 12, sending the parish and the wider Catholic community of South Florida into high preparation mode for the Dec. 6-7 ordination formalities.
“His life has changed in ways he has yet to imagine and we thank him for saying ‘Yes’ when he received that call from the (Apostolic) Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, informing him that Pope Francis had chosen him to be a bishop,” Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski told those gathered for the vespers, which traditionally are celebrated the evening before ordination.
Archbishop Wenski noted that the elevation to the episcopacy is an invitation “not to elevate one’s self but to lower one’s self, like Jesus.”
“Enrique, you are a coworker with the bishops but also be especially attentive to the poor, the weak, the immigrant, and the stranger — victims of today’s disposable culture and the globalization of indifference,” the archbishop said. “May you be to them an image of the Good Shepherd Himself who came to save the least, the last and the lost.”
Archbishop Wenski added a word of gratitude to the communities of Weston and St. Justin Martyr in Key Largo, where Father Delgado also served as pastor.
A globe-trotting businessman and engineer in his previous vocation, Father Delgado helped the community at St. Katharine Drexel, the only Catholic church in Weston, accomplish the much-needed construction of a new permanent worship space and multipurpose building.
At the dedication ceremony in 2014, Archbishop Wenski playfully referred to the suburbs here as "Westonzuela," a nod to the many Venezuelans among the city's some 65,000 residents at that time.
George Hayek, a founding member of the parish who served on the building committee, said people are attracted to Father Delgado because he has “a gentle nature and is approachable,” qualities that will serve him well with a large flock.
“That is very important — that people are able to approach you and learn from you in a gentle way,” said Hayek, adding, “Bishop-elect Delgado was our third pastor here and he came in at a time when the parish was in a difficult situation and we didn’t have this structure that we are standing in.”
“He is an engineer and with his gentle way pulled it all together and got it done. He’s also a good shepherd because he is a very simple, humble individual and very giving. His brilliance is camouflaged by that and he is a wonderful guy.”
On hand at the 2014 dedication and again at vespers was Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer, who noted he has been a friend of the St. Katharine Drexel community since its inception.
“I have known Father Delgado since he arrived and it is really amazing to watch the church grow from what started in a storefront to a warehouse to now having its own home,” he said. “Father Delgado has been a great pastor and I am sure he will be a great bishop.”
He added that when the city teamed with the church for some community programs related to families and children, he saw how Father Delgado’s background as an engineer influenced the way he worked.
“He analyzes things in very literal ways which is very good. So not only does he give his pastoral heart to things but he has a good (intellect) and he has always been a very welcoming person to whatever we needed to do and have conversations about,” Stermer said.
Jim Norton, former Weston city commissioner and a founding parishioner, noted that Father Delgado “certainly helped get this house of prayer off the ground and we are very blessed to have him as the new auxiliary bishop.”
He predicted he would have a great impact diocese-wide. “He’s very knowledgeable, very focused, he has a great business acumen and obviously knows a lot about finance and economics, and that will really help regionally here in the archdiocese. He will focus on how our churches can be better situated from a financial position as well as offering theological guidance.”
Father Delgado’s many siblings and extended family were also at vespers, including his sister Pilar and her husband, Carlos Pinillos, from Manassas, Va.
“We are a little bit nervous because it is the first time the whole family is here,” Pilar said of the presence of many of her brothers, nephews and nieces from Peru and elsewhere.
“I never imagined he would be a bishop and even Father Enrique never imagined he would be a bishop. It was a big surprise,” her husband Carlos added.
Newly ordained Father James Arriola, parochial vicar at St. Katharine Drexel, noted how busy life has been at the parish since the nomination of the bishop-elect. “He is a very humble person in everything he does, and in the midst of all this craziness of the ordination he still has the time to ask me how I am — it’s amazing to see this of a bishop. We can expect a lot of great service from him.”
Mark Kerney, a member of the parish council, finance and building committees, said simply: “I am happy as heck for him, because he has done a great job here.
“I don't know what the archbishop has in mind for him but I think he is going to be one of those guys who does a great job administering the archdiocese, helping out with all kinds of things administratively,” Kerney said, adding that “he did a great job” as a parish priest.
“It is an honor and a privilege that our pastor was appointed as a bishop but he will continue being the same Father Enrique, now Bishop Enrique,” said Marisela Zambrano, parish manager. “He is so kind and will continue being the same as he is.”
On hand observing the vespers was the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. He served in a more active role the following afternoon, representing Pope Francis at the ordination Mass at St. Mary Cathedral.