Vatican City, Jul 11, 2017 / 11:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis appointed Fr. Andrew Bellisario, C.M., as Bishop of Juneau, and Auxiliary Bishop Nelson Perez as Bishop of Cleveland.
Bishop Perez, 56, has been Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre since 2012. He succeeds Bishop Richard Lennon, who resigned in December 2016 at the age of 69 due to health reasons. Fr. Bellisario, 60, a member of the Congregation of the Mission and rector of Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage, succeeds Bishop Edward Burns, who was installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas in February.
Bishop Perez said July 11 that he goes to Cleveland “with a deep love for the Lord, His Church, and a profound love for the priesthood that I received as a wonderful gift twenty-eight years ago.” “I am filled with excitement and enthusiasm to get to know my brother priests, deacons, religious, and faithful of this great diocese and learn all I can possibly learn to serve you, with the grace of God, to the very best of my ability.”
Bishop Perez was born June 16, 1961 in Miami to Cuban parents, and grew up in New Jersey. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Montclair State University in New Jersey in 1984, followed by ecclesiastical studies at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. He received a master's degree in theology, and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia May 20, 1989.
In addition to his service in parishes, he was also vice director of the Archdiocesan Office for Hispanics from 1990-1993 and founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization from 1993-2002. From 2003-2005 he was a member of the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He also worked in education, including teaching courses in psychology and religious studies at LaSalle University from 1994-2008 and developmental psychology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in 2011. He was given the title of Monsignor by St. John Paul II in 1998.
Bishop Perez was named an auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre June 8, 2012, and was ordained a bishop that July. As auxiliary bishop he was episcopal vicar of the eastern vicariate and the Hispanic apostolate. He also served on the U.S. bishops’ conference as president of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs and as a member of the committees on Cultural Diversity in the Church and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. He also chaired the diocesan planning committee V National Encuentro meeting for the pastoral care of Hispanic Catholics.
Bishop John Barres of Rockville Centre said, “Bishop Perez’ great strength, pastoral insight and support of the People of God in our parishes was drawn from his years as a dedicated pastor of parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” “He experienced every joy, sorrow and challenge a parish pastor experiences and our priests understood that he knew them and supported them,” he continued. “With his background in counseling, the depth of his prayer life and liturgical life, and his joyful and charismatic personality, Bishop Perez brings both the Joy and Laughter of the Gospel into every room he enters.” He will be installed as the eleventh Bishop of Cleveland Sept. 5.
Fr. Bellisario is a priest of the Congregation of the Mission, commonly known as the Vincentian Fathers. “I am humbled and grateful to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for appointing me as the next Bishop of Juneau,” Fr. Bellisario said. “It is with humility, respect and great joy that I look forward to serving the people of the Diocese of Juneau.”
He was born near Los Angeles Dec. 19. 1956. He attended Saint Vincent Minor Seminary in Montebello from 1971-1975 before entering the Congregation of the Mission Aug. 14, 1975. Fr. Bellisario studied philosophy at Saint Mary's of the Barrens Seminary College in Perryville, Missouri from 1976-1980, and received his masters of divinity after studying at De Andreis Institute of Theology in Illinois from 1980-1984.
He was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Mission June 16, 1984. He served as Dean of Students at Saint Vincent for two years before serving as a priest at various parishes in Los Angeles County. Fr. Bellisario was also director of the DePaul Evangelization Center and a superior, and then provincial, of the DePaul Residence Center in California.
From 2003-2015 he served as director of the Daughters of Charity in Los Altos, before becoming Rector of the Co-Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Anchorage in 2014. From 2015 he has been the superior of the International Missions in Alaska. He will be ordained and installed as Bishop of Juneau Oct. 10.