By Jorge I. Dominguez-Lopez
Her mother is so proud of her and likes to spread the good news.
“My mother, of course, she’s so excited and she tells people and they are like, ‘No, that’s not common, she is not a priest, she is not a canon lawyer, that’s not common.’”
What they can’t believe is that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio recently named Mrs. Jasmine Salazar – Hispanic mother and wife – as the new vice chancellor of the Diocese of Brooklyn. She is the first laywoman to be named vice chancellor of the diocese.
Salazar was born in a deeply Catholic family of Colombian immigrants. Her family belonged to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park, where she attended the parish school.
“I was born in Brooklyn, in the area of Sunset Park, which is a heavily Hispanic area, and that’s where I grew up,” she explained.
“My parents are both from Colombia, my mother from Bogotá, my dad from Pereira, so my first language was Spanish. Once I got into my adolescent years and then my young-adult years my concentration was ministering to Hispanics and Hispanic-Americans so that was a lot of my foundation, I guess, in ministering.”
During those years, the new vice chancellor was a leader of the Jornada Movement not just in her parish but also in the diocese. She has worked for the Diocese of Brooklyn since 2009.
According to Msgr. Anthony Hernández, Chancellor of the Diocese of Brooklyn, the designation of Salazar as vice chancellor “is a significant testimony to the presence of the Hispanic community in the Diocese of Brooklyn. It is a sign that we’ve always been about getting the best people in the positions that they needed to be in, because particularly the work that we’ve been doing is about caring for the most vulnerable in the dioceses those who may have been victimized by members of the clergy.”
Msgr. Hernández was referring to the fact that since 2013 the new vice chancellor has been the victim assistance coordinator for the dioceses, helping people who have been sexually abuse by members of the clergy. The new title doesn’t mean a change of her roles, but rather the recognition of her hard work. Hers may be the hardest job in the diocese, but she talks with evident passion about her job.
“I feel that I’ve been called specifically with the mission of being an instrument of healing, an instrument of healing to victims, an instrument of healing between the Church and victims, and also in my core is that call to protect children,” Salazar says.
Being a parent brings a special commitment to her mission.
“As a mom, that nurturing nature is part of me and also as a mother one of the most important thing is to protect the young. So, it is definitely, I’m going to be coming in with that perspective.”
The appointment was a huge surprise and the emotion still lingers in her voice when she remembers the moment.
“The bishop called me into his office. I have regular meetings with him and I always come with my own agenda,” she explains, “but (that day) he said, ‘First things first,’ and then he informed me and I was in such a shock that I said, ‘Wow, okay.’
“I was in such shock that I did not want to talk about it so I just kind of went to the points in my agenda, and at the end I was like, ‘Thank you, bishop.’”