From India to the Philippines, from Haiti to Nigeria, priests come from all over the world each summer to serve in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Those priests, who enter the United States on a religious working visa, gathered at the diocesan headquarters in Park Slope on July 18 for a Mass that was celebrated by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and that included 70 visiting, non-incardinated priests. Before the Mass, several of those priests spoke to The Tablet.
“We’ve come to know and realize how big my Catholic family is all over the world,” Father Innaiah Kondaveti, a visiting priest from India, said. He has served at St. Francis Xavier, Park Slope, every summer since 2006.
“There are so many wonderful things that I learn from here in New York — a different culture and a deep faith formation that I see among the people here,” Father Kondaveti added. “We are a newer church in India, so it’s very different.”
He noted how much he loves the diversity of cuisine in New York. “After coming here to Park Slope all these years, I feel like it is a second home,” he said.
Father Joel Cariaso, a visiting priest from the Philippines, called himself an “honorary New Yorker.” He has been serving at St. Martin DePorres in Bedford–Stuyvesant for three years. Before that, he spent some summers in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
“There are many migrants here in this diocese, so it is important [as priests] to talk about how to better respond to the needs,” Father Carriaso said.
Father Jean Farda Tanisma, who’s from Haiti, has been working on his thesis for the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, while serving at Holy Family parish in Flatlands.
“Through my work here, I feel like I am better prepared to serve my local church, my diocese and the universal church,” he said. “My experience in the diocese has been enriching … to be able to serve the people and sanctify them.”
Father Celestine Chigboh, from Nigeria, has been ordained a priest for 25 years. He has served at St. Bernadette, Dyker Heights, since 2003.
“It’s been a very beautiful experience, something I look forward to every year,” he shared. “I love the people of Brooklyn so much … We take care of each other.”
Bishop DiMarzio told The Tablet that he is grateful for the work the priests do, from celebrating daily Masses to administering to the sick, and he also thanked the visitors in his homily.
“You, the international priests, have been called to this land of Brooklyn,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “We may not be flowing with milk and honey, but hopefully we have the resources to share with you during this time. Thank you for coming to us, for spending your vacation wish us, hopefully to learn and bring back the faith to your communities back home.”