“International Priests,” as Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio referred to them, gathered at Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston, for a day to ask questions and address any concerns they have.
These non-incardinated priests of the diocese came together to discuss issues such as life in the diocese, Virtus training, guidelines for visas but also to share their stories with one another.
Father Patrick Keating, CEO of Catholic Migration Services, led a seminar on migration and visa-related issues. Bishop DiMarzio opened the day with the Eucharistic adoration and a question-and-answer session in which he personally responded to inquiries.
“Today, we have a day for and a meeting of all of our international priests as they come from all over the world,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “They help us throughout the diocese so much, so we like to bring them together. We thank them for coming and for the service they provide to so many people. They are given the chance to learn more about the diocese and also address any issues they are having. This is the diocese of immigrants and that extends to the priesthood as well.”
Many of these priests have been serving in the diocese for years while some are relatively new to the area. Nigeria, Ghana and India are some of the most common homelands for many of the men, while the rest come from Ireland, the Philippines, Poland, Colombia, Haiti, Congo, Mexico, Romania, Uganda and others.
Father Jorge Ortiz, coordinator of the ministry to Mexican immigrants, was excited to attend. “Today is about coming together,” said Father Ortiz. “Seeing so many faces from around the world is amazing. We get the chance to express our concerns and issues all while hearing and learning from the bishop and seeing how much we are appreciated as we celebrate together.”
Help Bridge The Gap
Non-incardinated priests provide a level of comfort for newcomers to the diocese who feel they have a priest of their own language, culture, and homeland to help bridge the gap between their homelands and their new residences.
Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto, Vicar for Clergy, was the main celebrant of the Mass that concluded the day.He told the priests, “As the Vicar for Clergy, one of my responsibilities is overseeing you from the womb to the tomb, as I like to say. I am here to also assist you all in any way you need. There are many events that will take place that you all are invited to and will bring us closer together. It is a two-way street.
“You give a lot and sacrifice so much to be here and serve so many people. But we try and do our best to give back to all of you and show our appreciation.”