Pope appoints new bishop to Florida diocese

.- Pope Benedict appointed Bishop Felipe de Jesus Estevez, a former auxiliary bishop of Miami, to lead the northeastern Florida diocese of St. Augustine.

“I congratulate Bishop Estevez on his appointment,” Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said on April 27. “He brings many gifts to Northeast Florida – as a priest, he has served as a pastor, spiritual director, seminary rector, and as a very effective preacher of retreats and missions.”

Bishop Estevez, 65, will replace current St. Augustine Bishop Victor Benito Galeone, who offered his resignation upon reaching the retirement age of 75.

“While the People of God here in South Florida rejoice over Northeast Florida’s good fortune in having Bishop Estevez as their new shepherd,” Archbishop Wenski added, “we will certainly miss him.”

“Bishop Estevez has not only been a brother priest and bishop to me, he has, for more than 35 years, been and still is my good friend.”

Bishop Estevez was born in Cuba in 1946 and came to the U.S. as part of Operation Pedro Pan, which rescued some 14,000 Cuban children from the Communist regime of the time.

He attended school in Fort Wayne, Indiana and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970 for the Diocese of Matanzas in Cuba. After working in Honduras, he came to Florida in 1975 and was received into the Archdiocese of Miami in 1979.

He served on the faculty of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach and as president rector of the seminary from 1980 to 1986. Bishop Estevez was also was in charge of campus ministry at Florida International University in Miami from 1987 to 2001, while serving as pastor of St. Agatha Church.

He was ordained a bishop in 2004 for the Archdiocese of Miami.

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