After having collectively ministered in Brooklyn and Queens for nearly 60 years, seven foreign-born priests have begun the new year as official priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Fathers Carlos Alberto Agudelo Alvarez, Jovito Carongay Jr., Janusz Dymek, Godofredo Olaco Felicitas, Joseph Gaspar D. Hugo, Juan D. Ruiz and Grzegorz Stasiak formally were received Dec. 20 by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio at Mass in the chapel of the diocesan offices in Park Slope.
By the process of incardination, they are no longer members of their previous dioceses. Rather, they are full members of the Brooklyn diocesan clergy and share in the same rights and duties.
Two of the newly incardinated priests, Fathers Carlos Alberto Agudelo Alvarez and Juan D. Ruiz, originate from the Archdiocese of Medellin, Colombia.
Father Alvarez, 43, was ordained Nov. 21, 1998 by Medellin Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo. He served as a pastor, vice rector of the minor seminary, and as a university professor before coming to the U.S. in 2010.
“I came to take care of my mother,” he said. “She had a stroke and was very dependent on me. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here.”
His mother lived in St. Bartholomew parish, Elmhurst, and he was able to serve at St. Leo’s, Corona, while caring for her. “It was a blessing,” he said.
After her death in 2011, he felt called to stay in Queens. “I became close to the suffering of people here, the immigrants. I became aware of the reality of so many people,” he said.
Father Alvarez was named administrator of St. Paul’s Church, Corona, on Oct. 1, 2016.
His countryman, Father Ruiz, 47, studied at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Rome, before being ordained by Bishop Giuseppe Di Falco of Sulmona-Valva, Italy, in the Cathedral of Sulmona on June 26, 1999.
He served as a pastor in Pietransieri, Italy, where he was involved in helping people with immigration issues, before coming to the Diocese of Immigrants.
Since 2011, he has served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Sorrows, Corona; Corpus Christi, Woodside, and is presently at Regina Pacis, Bensonhurst.
Regina Pacis was where Father Janusz Dymek learned English when he came to the U.S. Both he and Father Stasiak were ordained priests for the Diocese of Lomza, Poland, and arrived in the Brooklyn Diocese Oct. 2, 2008.
Father Dymek, 40, who was ordained by Bishop Stanislaw Stefanek on May 26, 2001, holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Catholic University in Warsaw.
In addition to Regina Pacis, he has ministered at Our Lady of Czestochowa-St. Casimir, Sunset Park; Guardian Angel, Brighton Beach; and St. Pancras, Glendale.
His time at Guardian Angel parish was significant, he said, because it is there that he was exposed to the rich diversity that the diocese has to offer. “I like the Universal Church and that’s why I love the Diocese of Brooklyn: the different cultures, peoples, languages,” he said.
In 2013, Father Dymek was named administrator of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church.
Father Stasiak, 42, was also ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Stefanek on May 29, 1999, and had parish assignments before coming to New York.
Locally, he has served at Holy Cross, Maspeth, and St. Catharine of Alexandria, Borough Park. Now, he is the parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mercy, Forest Hills.
He also coordinates the diocesan ministry for people of Polish descent, but he said, “I want to serve all people.”
From Philippine Islands
Rounding out the group of seven are three Filipino priests who represent the three main island groups in the Philippines.
Born in Anda, Bohol, Father Felicitas, 63, was ordained for the Diocese of Iligan on July 29, 1982. He served as rector of a college seminary, and regional director of the Paul VI Biblical Center for Mindanao, Davao City.
He excardinated from the Iligan Diocese in 2002, and was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Davao. He came to Brooklyn the following year and was briefly assigned to St. Athanasius parish in Bensonhurst.
Father Felicitas has been the associate pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine parish in Bayside since 2005. He is also a former coordinator of the Filipino Diocesan Apostolate.
Father Carongay Jr., 55, studied finance before entering the seminary at age 23. He was ordained for the Diocese of Borongan on March 18, 1992 by Bishop Leonardo Medroso.
He served as a pastor, prefect of discipline at the minor seminary and as parochial vicar at the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Manila.
In 2000, he came to New York and became a chaplain at Wyckoff Heights Hospital, Bushwick, while living at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal rectory in Ridgewood.
He also served at St. Ann, Flushing, and St. Joan of Arc, Jackson Heights, with the intervening year spent back in the Philippines.
Father Carongay has been the administrator of Ascension Church in Elmhurst, since 2009.
Born and raised in Luzon, Father Hugo, who will turn 49 on Jan. 9, was ordained for the Diocese of Masbate on Sept. 23, 1994 by Bishop Porfirio Iligan.
As he was preparing to take a sabbatical to mark his 10th anniversary as a priest, he met Msgr. Charles Boccio in Manilla. The monsignor, now retired, said he needed a Filipino priest in his parish, Immaculate Conception in Astoria.
“Maybe he was God’s instrument,” Father Hugo said. “Maybe he was God’s way of telling me that I was needed in Brooklyn.”
He has since served at St. Patrick, Bay Ridge, and Assumption, Brooklyn Heights. In 2016, he became parochial vicar at Our Lady Help of Christians, Midwood.
“I’m here to help the diocese evangelize,” Father Hugo said, “and to take good care of the flock.”