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The Florida Catholic

Pastor urged to ‘continue to be as you are’ at installation

BOCA RATON  |  Exactly 30 years after his ordination to the priesthood, Father Nestor Rodriguez was installed as the pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito presided at the installation Mass Sept. 3, accompanied by many priests, deacons and parishioners from St. Joan and other parishes served through the years by Father Rodriguez.  

The bishop explained that the installation was an acclamation of an appointment already made. The formal letter of appointment was read by Patty Delaney, director of parish administration, as part of the installation ceremony before Father Rodriguez committed himself publicly to continue to carry out his role as priest and pastor.

During the ceremony, Father Rodriguez pledged to the parish and school staff that he would always seek their advice on important matters. The bishop then led Father Rodriguez in renewing his dedication to Jesus as pastor: “Are you resolved to continue to unite yourself more closely to Christ and to bring the peace and love of his Spirit to the people of St. Joan of Arc Parish?” The pastor replied, “I am.”

“Remember, my brother, Father Nestor, continue to be as you are, a loving father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher of your people so that you may lead them to Christ, who will strengthen all that you do,” Bishop Barbarito said. “And now, as a teacher and proclaimer of our faith, I ask you to lead your people in the profession of their faith.”

In his homily, the bishop spoke about the special qualities that have prepared Father Rodriguez to take on the leadership of St. Joan of Arc Parish and School.

“For 30 years, Father Nestor has been a wonderful priest, a remarkable priest. A priest who gives of himself because, before him is the judgment of God, before him is the love of God. Before him is not what worldly power can bring in terms of fulfillment, as Jesus talks about in the Gospel today, but what the kingdom of God can bring,” Bishop Barbarito said.

The bishop said he has experienced “the goodness, the depth of the faith, the hope and the love that is present here at St. Joan of Arc Parish.”

“We don’t simply celebrate Father Nestor and his role as pastor. We celebrate our role. Our role as the church. You are the church. You are the people of God. You are the ones who work with Father Nestor and the priests in building up together the kingdom of God,” he said.

The bishop asked God to continue blessing St. Joan of Arc as the parish enters a new phase. “Today, as we celebrate the installation of Father Nestor, we give thanks to God for the gift of him,” he said. “As we celebrate his anniversary, we know the Lord will continue to fill him, in the years ahead, with the graces and the blessings he has bestowed upon him in such an abundant way.”

At the end of the Mass, Father Rodriguez thanked Bishop Barbarito for entrusting to him the parish and school. “Since my arrival, I have been overwhelmed, truly overwhelmed by the parishioners’ warm and loving welcome. As you know, this is where my priestly journey began over 30 years ago as a seminarian and deacon,” he said, adding that St. Joan is where he celebrated his first Mass as a priest.

Father Rodriguez held up the chalice he received as a gift from his siblings. Also, the vestments he was wearing were a gift from a friend, Father Alfredo Hernández, current rector of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

He expressed appreciation to the concelebrating priests, deacons, ushers, music ministry and parish staff who made the celebration so memorable, including the lectors, Vanessa Ramos and Rosa Rosado, family members who proclaimed the readings at his first Mass three decades earlier.

Father Rodriguez gave special mention to family members and friends who helped form him as a person and priest, especially members from his former parishes: the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, Holy Cross in Indiantown, and St. Ann and St. Juliana in West Palm Beach.

Speaking about the blessing it is to be named pastor of the Boca Raton parish, he said, “To the parishioners of St. Joan of Arc, you have touched my heart with your dedication. May we continue our journey of faith together. Let us continue to work together and share the Good News of Jesus Christ more than ever. People need Jesus in their lives. We all know that. May we continue to surrender to his compassion, to his unconditional love.”

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