Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Espaillat has evangelized people with Jesus and the Gospel at archdiocesan parish missions during his time as a leader of the archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Bishop Espaillat, who is serving as director of the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center in the Bronx and spiritual director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the archdiocese, initiated a plan to bring center retreats to archdiocesan parishes. Over 40 parishes in New York City and the Hudson Valley have been visited since parish missions were launched in October 2020.
“When we go out to the parishes, most of the people don’t know about us,” he said. “It’s really sad. Most of the people never heard of the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center.”
He added, “We adapt to the needs of the people. People think you’re going to come and do this Charismatic stuff. People need to remember I’m a priest of Jesus Christ. I’m for everybody…I'm here to minister to all people. Especially now as a bishop, I'm called to minister to all.”
Bishop Espaillat said the response has been “phenomenal,” and added the center has two teams—one that handles the local retreats at the center, which is housed at the bishop’s parish of St. Anthony of Padua in the Bronx and one that travels to the parishes throughout the archdiocese.
“When we go to the parishes, the beautiful thing is every single experience has been super positive, and the priests are appreciative because it’s a resource for them,” he said. “I’m homegrown. I love the Archdiocese of New York. I’m here, I'm not from the outside. I’m going to fight for our archdiocese the best I possibly can.”
Bishop Espaillat receives assistance from Deacon Luis Feliz of St. Anthony of Padua and Deacon Jose Luis Abreu of St. Catherine of Genoa parish in upper Manhattan as well as from lay people, including Juan De La Rosa, director of the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the archdiocese, and Suhel Aybar, associate director of the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center.
“First thing is to provide to the people an encounter with Jesus,” De La Rosa said. “That's why we have the retreats to provide the people with an encounter with Jesus and then provide the people information about the Catholic faith and renewal movement at the parishes.
“When you have an encounter with Jesus, you are going to receive the Holy Spirit.”
Ms. Aybar said Bishop Espaillat’s efforts have benefited people like her who seek to help him bring Jesus to the parishes.
“The role that (Bishop Espaillat) has done there in taking the Charismatic Renewal and the center as well to another level is changing the format of the retreats and building more leaders and focusing especially on the youth,...teaching and educating them in their formation as leaders. The whole thing here is the vision to form leaders, go out and spread the word of the Gospel, and take that back to your communities,” she said.
“The response has been beyond our expectations. We’ve reached over 3,000 souls going out to parishes. It’s a true blessing because we are listening to the voice of God and thank God for (Bishop Espaillat), that he is a man of God and a man of vision. Not only does he say things, he acts upon them.”
De La Rosa and Ms. Aybar were present at the March 1 Ordination Mass of Bishop Espaillat and Bishop John Bonnici at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“I think the Holy Spirit moved the pope, the cardinals and everyone who made this decision in prayer, because they took a man who has so much zeal for the Church and so much passion for the people of the Church and especially for the youth,” Ms. Aybar said. “He’s going to be an amazing bishop because his zeal and his love and his passion for Christ is gonna take, not only our Church, but our youth, to another level.
“He’s going to do what God is sending him to do because he listens to God’s voice and he has a lot of wisdom.”
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