WILLIAMSBURG — In the latest sign of the Diocese of Brooklyn’s role as the Diocese of Immigrants, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has formally welcomed a priest whose departure from his native Dominican Republic brings a range of international experience to new roles in New York.
Father Jeremias Castillo has been the parochial vicar at Transfiguration Church since 2018, but he recently received incardination, the formal approval for a priest’s move from one diocese to another.
His journey toward ministry as a full-fledged priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn has included: being raised in the Dominican Republic, studying for the priesthood in Colombia, returning home to be ordained in 2008 for the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana, starting ministry (and studying English) as a visiting priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn in 2011, and traveling to Rome in 2015 to study canon law before taking his post in Williamsburg a few years later.
There are reasons for his former diocese in the Dominican Republic to miss him. Father Castillo had served that diocese as chancellor, assisting his bishop in matters of governance, and as econome, the officer overseeing finances and budgeting related to 33 parishes.
Now, in the Diocese of Brooklyn, he has been welcomed into various roles and has helped the Church to welcome local communities of Catholics.
“I am very grateful that Bishop DiMarzio has given me the opportunity to serve in this diocese,” said Father Castillo, 41. Speaking Spanish, he said through an interpreter that he is “so happy to be here” in a place of diversity.
Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, pastor of Transfiguration Parish, said he is glad for Father Castillo’s presence, too.
“It’s been a great help to me in the parish, and he has taken on a lot of the pastoral responsibilities, especially as we’ve been dealing with many issues on the diocese level,” Msgr. Hernandez said. “He’s been able to take up the pastoral slack, and the people really have a lot of affection for him.”
Father Castillo said he enjoys celebrating the parish’s daily Mass at 9:30 a.m., where as many as 90 worshipers are in attendance, said to be fans of his homilies. He also loves bringing holy Communion to the elderly and homebound.
Transfiguration Church has a largely Latino population, with immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador, Honduras, and Colombia.
Father Castillo said he has felt at home from the moment he was welcomed at the parish as a visiting priest in 2011.
Msgr. Hernandez encouraged him early to study canon law in Rome. The pastor said he was impressed with his intellect. “It was his thought process — the way he’s able to handle things — and from what I heard, the things he had to handle in his home diocese made me think he definitely had the ability to deal with complex and challenging issues.”
Now that he is well-versed in Church law, Father Castillo has been handling challenging matters as a Defender of the Bond in annulment proceedings at the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Tribunal. Appointed to that position last year, it is his job to defend the validity of a marriage in the tribunal proceeding and, if necessary, to present evidence rebutting a petitioner’s request for annulment.