Last Thursday on the 2nd of June I got a new bishop, Bishop Felipe de Jesús Estévez will serve as Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine for the next ten years.
Seems rather weird for me to be a Catholic of 12 years and going on my third bishop. When I came into the Church Bishop Snyder was at the tail-end of his time of Bishop. He retired ten years ago, but has been semi-active in the diocese and I have seen him around at various events. Bishop Victor Galeone succeeded him and I must say I have been quite happy to call him my bishop for the last ten years. For him the pro-life cause was something he had always been apart of since his time as a priest in Baltimore. He is also a man willing to make tough decisions for the good of the diocese and to issue pastoral letters directed to the care of souls. I have seen several changes to the good in the diocese during his time as bishop. Some illicit liturgical practices that were prevalent before were mostly eliminated and some bizarre liturgical architectural choices made previously had been modified. Though he seemed to me to work as a silent hand behind the scenes and I never heard of any specific directives making such corrections – but corrections were made. The Diocesan magazine also saw changes for the good. I remember one article they had before Bishop Galeone about Satan possibly being able to go to Heaven later. My R.C.I.A. director at the time and an old school Jesuit the late Fr. Powers pretty much went into high power rant mode over that article. So I am certainly going to miss Bishop Galeone as both a good bishop and a good man and I hope he stays around the diocese.
Bishop Galeone came here at the age of 65 and the same is true of my new bishop Felipe J. Estevez. With retirement at 75 this means two bishops in a row with 10 year terms and God willing means I will live to see more bishops in my diocese.
Felipe de Jesús Estévez came to the United States in the early sixties from Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan. He was ordained a priest on May 30, 1970 and then spent five years in Honduras before coming back to Florida to serve in a seminary and then as campus chaplain, pastor, and was later made an auxiliary bishop for Miami.
He is a close family friend, was very close to my father (RIP+) and mother. They assisted couples who were to be married at his parish in South Florida. He is a great guy.