Bishop DiMarzio officially installs pastor; blesses new Perpetual Adoration Chapel
CORONA — The spirit of renewal and resilience was in the air at Our Lady of Sorrows Church on April 11 as Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio officially installed Father Manuel de Jesus Rodriguez as the pastor.
“This is a very happy day, a blessed day,” Father Rodriguez said, calling Our Lady of Sorrows, “this wonderful community of faith.”
He said he was “another servant” in a long line of priests and pastors who have served Our Lady of Sorrows over the years. The church is preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
The bishop also blessed the church’s new Perpetual Adoration Chapel, which the church decided to dedicate to COVID-19 victims and their families.
Father Rodriguez has been working at Our Lady of Sorrows for several months, but Sunday marked his official installation as its pastor. He previously served as pastor of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Jamaica.
“He has done a lot here already,” Bishop DiMarzio said.
The church lost nearly 100 parishioners in the COVID-19 pandemic. Corona, where the church is located, was one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in the city.
When Father Rodriguez arrived, he immediately announced that he stood ready to assist parishioners in any way he could as they struggled to get through the pandemic.
Parishioners praised Father Rodriguez for being a comfort source during the tough times and fostering a sense of healing and renewal.
“Having him here feels like a new beginning,” said Gail Clement, who has been a parishioner for 35 years and is a member of the Parish Council. “He has brought new energy and vitality to our parish. We really feel like things are going to be okay.”
Our Lady of Sorrows, which serves a predominantly Hispanic population, celebrated the new pastor’s installation at a bilingual English and Spanish Mass at 10:30 a.m. Parishioners lined up early to get into the church — at one point, the line stretched around the corner. With social distancing rules in place, the available pews quickly filled up.
The Mass had a festive, celebratory air. At one point, Bishop DiMarzio told the parishioners. “I present to you, your new pastor,” as Father Rodriguez stood in front of the altar. The congregation applauded for several minutes.
Prior to the Mass, Bishop DiMarzio marveled at the crowds of parishioners.
“Today is a beautiful day for this community,” he said. “People are lined up around the block to get into church.”
The bishop noted that Our Lady of Sorrows has more than a dozen Masses every Sunday, a testament to the community’s deep faith.
“It’s one of the biggest parishes we have. You can see people do care for one another. It’s a real community of faith,” he said.
Following the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was carried into the chapel, located behind the altar. Bishop DiMarzio blessed the chapel, which will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It will be guarded at all times by volunteers, several of whom have already signed up, due to the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Bishop DiMarzio said churches that have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament have seen an increase in priestly vocations.
Father Rodriguez said the chapel has been dedicated to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary as well as to COVID-19 victims and their families.
“We want it to be a permanent presence and a source of spiritual strength,” the pastor said.