More than 2,000 people are expected to fill the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on Tuesday afternoon to watch Nelson J. Pérez’s installation as the 14th Roman Catholic bishop and 10th archbishop of Philadelphia.
Here’s what you need to know:
Who is Nelson Pérez?
Ordained in 1989, Pérez, 58, started his career with 23 years as a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He is returning to lead the region’s 1.3 million Catholics after stints as a bishop in Cleveland and Rockville Centre, N.Y.
The son of Cuban immigrants who settled in New Jersey, Pérez will be the first Hispanic prelate to serve in the role.
Those who know him best describe him as a garrulous, down-to-earth pastor who excelled at forging personal connections with his flock during his stints at churches in West Chester and the Olney and Lawncrest sections of the city.
He replaces Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who is stepping down after reaching the Vatican’s traditional retirement age of 75.
How can I attend?
The ceremony, known as the Sacred Mass of Installation, begins at 2 p.m. Doors to the cathedral, at 17th Street on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, will open at 12:30.
About half of the pews in the basilica will be reserved for clergy, Pérez’s family, local dignitaries, church leaders from around the globe and other invited guests. There will be space for about 1,500 members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis in either the basilica or an adjoining chapel, organizers say.
Large screens will be erected within the basilica and the chapel to broadcast the liturgy for those with obstructed views.
The entrance procession begins at 1:40 p.m. on 17th Street between Vine and Race Streets.
What if I can’t make it?
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is expected to livestream the event from the entrance procession at 1:40 p.m. until the conclusion at around 4 p.m. Local TV news stations are expected to broadcast, or liveetream online, all or part of the ceremony.
What does the ceremony entail?
A process rich in pageantry and steeped in symbolism, the Mass of Installation will begin with an entrance procession of about 500 cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians who will pass through the cathedral chapel and into the basilica, where Pérez will be presented with a crucifix by cathedral rector, the Rev. Dennis Gill.
As the Mass begins, Chaput will “pass possession” of Philadelphia’s cathedral church to Pérez.
A reading of the official papal document that appointed him to the role last month will follow. Then, Pérez will then be given the crozier, or shepherd’s staff, of a bishop and presented to his cathedra, the high-backed “throne” of the archbishop in his cathedral.
A procession of seminarians, nuns, students, children and representatives from various cultural groups will then greet the new archbishop.
The ceremony is also expected to feature Pérez’s first homily delivered to the region’s Catholics in his new role. Organizers say the liturgy will feature at least five languages — English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog and American Sign Language.
The ceremony, which is expected to conclude around 4 p.m., will end with Pérez greeting members of the audience at the Communion rail at the front of the Cathedral.