Dear Editor: There is an adage that says that a priest’s first parish is his first love. I witnessed confirmation of this saying recently at Father Willy Kingsley Ndi’s First Mass at Brooklyn’s historic Our Lady of Victory Church, now part of St. Martin de Porres parish.
Father Ndi expressed gratitude for spending his period as a transitional deacon at Our Lady of Victory. Part of the joyous occasion of initiating a new priest’s ministry was a return visit (one of many) of Msgr. Joseph Nugent who was the parish priest of this church for 21 years. Among his many accomplishments was inviting the Missionaries of Charity to help abandoned women and their children. They were part of the celebration for Father Ndi. The heartfelt and warm greeting accorded Msgr. Nugent by parishioners of 30 and 40 years ago makes one think that something might have been lost when the Church abandoned the practice of appointing pastors for life who would bond with the parish for a couple of generations.
Several women told a friend and me that their children had grown up with Msgr. Nugent as their priest. One proudly proclaimed that her son was now a deacon at a neighboring parish.
This was my first visit to Our Lady of Victory. Its dynamic pastor, Father Alonzo Cox and parochial vicar, Father Daniel Kingsley, who like the newly ordained Father Kingsley Ndi was under the tutelage of Msgr. Nugent during visits to his home parish of St. Vincent Ferrer, made those of us from outside the parish experience the universality of the Church.
The vibrancy of Our Lady of Victory reflects well upon the Church in Brooklyn.
GERALD DE MAIO