As a 13-year-old altar server, Lorenzo Laboy inadvertently upstaged the priest at the end of Mass by administering the final blessing. In his 20s he actually took to the stage, as a lead actor off-Broadway, and was cast as an extra in a major motion picture. Now 32, soon he’ll stand before a congregation, ordained to perform his most coveted role of all: that of a priest, consecrating bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The late Father Michael Sepp of Sacred Heart parish in the Bronx played a major role in Father Laboy’s vocation to the priesthood. When a well-meaning parishioner brought to Father Sepp’s attention that Laboy, as an altar server, was administering the final blessing literally behind his back, Father Sepp had to kindly correct the boy. “I was embarrassed,” Father Laboy recalled with a laugh.
The son of Anselmo Laboy and Brunilda Acosta, he is the fourth of seven children. Born in the Bronx, Father Laboy was raised in St. John Vianney parish. He attended elementary school in the Bronx and graduated from Rice High School in Harlem.
He heard a call to the priesthood at a young age but dismissed it because at that time his true passion was to be an actor. And he thought he’d marry one day. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and theater from Fordham University in 2003 and later became a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
Credits include being cast as extra in the 2006 biographical film “El Cantante” (“The Singer”), about the late salsa singer Héctor Lavoe, starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. Laboy can be seen walking by during a 16th birthday party scene. He has also acted in the theater, off-Broadway.
In addition, he taught seventh-grade science and religion at Sacred Heart School in the Bronx from 2004 to 2008.
At that time, a fellow Fordham alumnus encouraged him to read the Bible, cover to cover, beginning with the epistles, or letters, of St. Paul. “From that moment on, my whole life was turned upside down, compelled by God’s word,” Father Laboy said. “I was on fire with God’s word. That just deepened my faith in the Church.”
Soon thereafter, while kneeling at Mass, the call to the priesthood he heard in childhood returned. “As the priest was saying the words of consecration, I saw myself in an instant doing what he was doing. I was very overwhelmed and kept it in my heart.”
He entered St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, in 2009.
Apostolic assignments as a seminarian included teaching confirmation class at St. John the Baptist parish in Yonkers, and ministry at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains and Holy Cross parish, the Bronx.
His diaconate assignment was at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Scarsdale.
Father Laboy plays baseball and football and is an avid dancer. He also likes camping and international travel; his sojourns include Israel and China.
“I don’t think of myself nor do I know of myself to be a scholar—and I left teaching so that I wouldn’t teach—but in the priesthood, you can’t help but to teach; that’s the job of a priest,” Father Laboy said.
Father Laboy will celebrate his first Mass at Sacred Heart Church in the Bronx Sunday, May 26 at 3 p.m. Father Anthony Sorgie, pastor of St. James the Apostle parish in Carmel, will deliver the homily.