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Diocese of Rockville Centre ordains new auxiliary bishop at St. Agnes

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Luis M. Romero Fernandez was ordained as auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre June 29 at St. Agnes Cathedral before a limited group of attendees, as well as bishops and priests from the region.

The ordination mass began at 2 p.m. and aired live and at 8 p.m. on the Catholic Faith Network for worshippers to view. Only invited guests were permitted to attend in person, as there is a strict capacity limit in the cathedral due to Covid-19.

“Please be assured that when it is deemed safe to gather, the Diocese will schedule a public mass commemorating Bishop Romero’s ordination,” Rev. John Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre, said when the new ordination date was announced in May, after being rescheduled from April 16.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre’s new auxiliary bishop, who Barres referred to as Bishop Romero, is originally from Huelva, Spain. He served in missions to Spain, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador for 25 years before joining the Diocese as pastor of Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead.

“Since my arrival in the Diocese of Rockville Centre I have been welcomed and embraced with such great delicacy and communion that I simply cannot find the words to fully express my gratitude,” he said at the service.

Romero’s ordination included several psalms and readings in both Spanish and English. Then, Bishop William Murphy, the Bishop-emeritus of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and Bishop Robert Brennan, the Bishop of Columbus, O.H., co-consecrating bishops, helped lead the ordination with Barres. Also, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, representing Pope Francis, presided over the ceremony.

As principal consecrator, Barres presented Romero and spoke about his qualifications for auxiliary bishop. “Romero is a Doctor of Medicine and Biology who is a vibrant witness to the Catholic Church’s advocacy of ethical scientific development in history,” Barres noted. “He has been an important global spokesman on the relationship between Religion and Science.”

Romero previously led a university in Ecuador and is the first bishop to be a member of Idente Missionaries, a Spanish Catholic organization, whose leaders were in attendance. Romero will be tasked with increasing Catholic education to Hispanic children and families in the community.

“We have made significant progress in recent years,” Barres said, “but we have so far to go and so we make that a special prayer intention today.”

The mass ended with communion and remarks from Romero, who expressed his gratitude to all who have helped him on his journey. He acknowledged “the grace that my ordination is happening in the midst of this pandemic,” and added, “I apologize to all of you for the inconveniences, which make your presence here even more meaningful to me.”