The Diocese of Brooklyn will welcome 13 new priests this weekend, including two Jackson Heights-born men, in this year’s largest ordination class in the nation.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn will be proclaiming the group of men, who were ordained as transitional deacons last August, into the priesthood on Saturday, June 28, at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn.
“These 13 men represent the great diversity of ethnicity, life experience and socioeconomic background of the Church of Brooklyn and Queens,” DiMarzio said. “I am privileged to ordain them as priests of Christ and welcome them to the Presbyterate of Brooklyn.”
Of the 13 men, eight were born in the United States, including Felix Herrera and the Rev. Anthony Rosado, who were born in Jackson Heights.
Herrera was born and raised in the western Queens neighborhood and as a young child admired his pastor and wondered what he had to do to be the one up at the altar. He was later invited to be an altar server while in the fourth grade.
“It was fun and nerve-wracking,” Herrera said. “The greatest joy was the peace and tranquility I experienced when I was serving. I believe that was God’s way of saying, ‘This is for you.’”
Herrera went off to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John’s University and a master of divinity degree from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Long Island, and he served as a pastor and deacon at Blessed Sacrament Church in Brooklyn.
According to the 27-year-old, although he received immense support from his parents, the biggest influence on his decision to be a priest came from his grandmother, Gloria, who took him to Mass, taught him to pray the rosary and would talk about both God and the church while cooking Ecuadorian food.
“Grandma was one of the main catalysts as to why I am here now,” Herrera said. “Growing up she was the one who always took us to Mass. She never mentioned priesthood to me but just the way she was devout and would go to Mass was inspirational.”
Herrera will give his first Mass of Thanksgiving on June 29 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Brooklyn.
Rosado, 30, grew up as a member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Jackson Heights and at 5 years old recognized his love for music while learning to play the piano. He sang in his parish’s choir, played the organ and served as music director at St. Bonaventure Church in Jamaica while in high school.
He later earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the Manhattan School of Music and, although he initially aspired to become a professional musician, he realized that every music piece he composed always had a sacred theme.
“Once I realized that music was my own little way of sharing faith, I started to ask, ‘Why not begin to share my faith at the broadest level, using every means at my disposal’ – namely, being a priest,” Rosado said.
Although he later enjoyed his more than three years serving pastoral assignments in Toronto, California and Michigan, he said he felt God was calling him back to serve his roots in New York.
He earned a master of divinity degree with a concentration in Hispanic ministry and went on to serve as a deacon at St. Fidelis Parish in College Point, where he helped both English- and Spanish-speaking parishioners.
“With people in the city with so many cultures, the fact that we 13 people from as many different cultures are making this decision really shows that we can show faith in a multitude of ways,” he said.
Rosado will offer his Mass of Thanksgiving on June 29 at St. Fidelis Parish in College Point.
Saturday’s Ordination Mass will be streamed live at www.netny.tv.