Msgr. Vasquez Was Brooklyn Diocese’s First Hispanic Pastor

Msgr. Vazquez

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Msgr. Perfecto Vazquez, a retired priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, at St. Teresa Church, Woodside, Nov. 13.

He died Nov. 9 at Elmhurst General Hospital after suffering a stroke. He would have been 86 in December.

Msgr. Vazquez was the first priest of Hispanic heritage to be appointed a pastor in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

A native of the Galicia region of northwest Spain, he discerned his call to religious life at a young age. He attended the Benedictine Abbey of Samos, Spain, and studied theology at the Monastery of Samos.

He was ordained a Benedictine priest on July 29, 1956 in Lugo, Spain.

In 1962, he came to the Brooklyn Diocese to study for his master’s degree in math at St. John’s University, Jamaica. At the time, he was assisting at St. Agnes, Carroll Gardens.

After graduation, he was a teacher and administrator at Colegio San Benito, Puerto Rico, but returned three times to assist at St. Agnes, before finally relocating to Brooklyn and becoming a full-time assistant at St. Agnes in 1970.

He was incardinated into the Brooklyn Diocese on Jan. 20, 1975, and was named a monsignor in 1982.

He was appointed pastor of Visitation B.V.M., Red Hook, on May 25, 1975, and became the diocese’s first Hispanic pastor. He served at Visitation for 11 years.

He then served as pastor at St. Agnes, 1986-93, and Guardian Angel, Brighton Beach, 1993-08.

As a senior active priest, he served as spiritual director of the diocesan Cursillo Movement, led pilgrimages and lived in residence at St. Teresa parish, Woodside.

Bishop Alfonso Cabezas, C.M., was the main celebrant at the funeral Mass.

Special concelebrants included Msgrs. Denis Herron, who preached the homily, and Steven Ferrari, and Fathers Thomas Pettei and John Harrington.

More than 50 other priests concelebrated Mass for the standing-room-only congregation.

Eyes on Heaven

Msgr. Herron, who once lived with Msgr. Vazquez, described him as someone “who had his eyes on Heaven and his feet on the ground.”

“I was always impressed by his energy,” said Msgr. Herron. “He reminded me of the energizer bunny. He never stopped, always moving, always active. I don’t think he ever really retired.

“He knew who he was. He was a pastor, who delighted in his sheep. He knew how his sheep acted and reacted.

“I often asked what would give him that energy. I think it had to do with his purity of heart. You begin to come to the energy of God by that pure heart that never stops loving.

Humble and Joyful

“He was humble and joyful, not joy without the cross, but joy through the cross.”

Msgr. Herron said that he loved listening to all of Msgr. Vazquez’s stories. “He had stories and he would go and on and on, and he would get happier as he went on. But everyone enjoyed the stories even if you didn’t understand a word he said.”

Bishop Cabezas described Msgr. Vazquez as “a great guy.”

“That’s why we all are here this morning – to wish him a Happy Resurrection,” said the Vincentian prelate.

Msgr. Vazquez is survived by his brother Manuel of Whitestone.

Burial was in St. John’s Cemetery, Middle Village.

In Memoriam
Msgr. Perfecto Vazquez

4 thoughts on “Msgr. Vasquez Was Brooklyn Diocese’s First Hispanic Pastor

  1. Msgr. Perfecto Vazquez was part of our family for many years. When first came to Saint Agnes he Baptized my brother. My family loved the Msgr. He would stop by the house if he don’t see us at church. He cared about his flock. He knew everyone s name. He Baptized two of my daughters, Msgr. Perfecto was what every priest should be. A true man of God. They should use his life as a model to teach others how to be.

  2. Msgr. Vasques was our first parish priest to honestly connect with our Hispanic parish community. Even though my Dad spoke English mom was always shy, but when Msgr. Perfecto visited she really participated in the conversation with our special Priest, Father Vasquez. When Msgr. Vasquez visited our home everyone joined in the conversation with joy because it was spoken in Spanish. Throughout the years he always came to visit with a sincere smile and wonderful message, his visits were always special. I continued to write to him since I was now going into high school and into another Catholic school, then after a few years of college, he was the one who married my husband and I, back in 1970. Will always remember what a personal commitment he had with all his parishioners. Will always remember you. May Heavenly Father embrace you for all the marvelous work you have done. Rest in Peace.

    1. Msgr. Vazquez married my husband and me in 1990. My husband is Roman Catholic, but I am not. During our pre-marriage sessions, Msgr. treated me with such pastorly love and respect, complimenting me for being a better Catholic than my husband! For some reason, I was thinking of Father Vazquez earlier today and decided to Google him although I no longer live in Brooklyn and it has been more than 25 years since I attended Midnight Mass at St. Agnes. Both my husband I are so saddened to hear of his passing but know that he was welcomed into Heaven, for he surely lived a life of service and devotion to others. We thank God for having experienced Father Vazquez’ kindness personally.

  3. Monsignor Gomez was a great priest. He was intelligent, hard working and very spiritual. He was a very nice guy too. As he will be missed on earth, he celebrated in heaven….