For more than 20 years, the Rev. Enrique Delgado’s place has been in a parish.
From Key Largo to Hollywood, the Peru-born pastor said his religious mission has always been to be a priest who “relates to the people in their everyday lives, who walks with them through life, accompanying them in their Christian journey.”
But come December, the congregation Delgado is responsible for will expand considerably. On Thursday, the Vatican announced Delgado will become Miami’s 14th and newest auxiliary bishop and the first Peruvian bishop in the United States.
Delgado will join Bishop Peter Baldacchino, ordained three years ago as auxiliary bishop, as second-in-command to Archbishop Thomas Wenski, leading more than 1.3 million Catholics in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.
“I never expected this,” Delgado said during the announcement at the Pastoral Center in Miami Shores. After he was called two weeks ago with the offer, “I was speechless trying to order my thoughts.”
Delgado, 61, will be officially ordained on Dec. 7 at St. Mary Cathedral.
Currently a pastor at St. Katharine Drexel Church in Weston, Delgado took a wandering path to the priesthood. Born in Lima, Peru, among 11 siblings, he studied industrial engineering and economics at the University of Lima, and briefly worked in business before he decided to pursue the ministry.
“I always had that vocation in my heart,” he said. He moved to the United States and joined a seminary program in Miami in 1991, where he finished degrees in theology and divinity in 1995 and 1996, respectively.
He was then ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami that same year. Before becoming pastor at St. Katharine Drexel in 2010, Delgado served at parishes in Key Biscayne, Hollywood and Key Largo. During his time in Weston, he also finished a doctorate in theology at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.
As auxiliary bishop, Delgado will assist in overseeing the more than 100 parishes and missions that serve the South Florida Catholic community, Wenski said.
Though the final decision belongs to Pope Francis, Wenski was part of the long selection process for his second auxiliary bishop and said Delgado was an example of how “good things are worth waiting for.”
Delgado, he added, will bring diversity in both perspective and past experience to the archdiocese: “He’s bilingual, he’s Hispanic,” he said. “When he came to Miami, he studied locally.”
Wenski also pointed to Delgado’s sure-footed leadership at St. Katharine Drexel, where he shepherded the 13-year-old congregation through rent and property challenges. He also united the church after a prior pastor died of brain cancer and another retired to a religious community.
“He was able to face all these issues with equanimity, peace and serenity,” Wenski said, praising Delgado as someone with a “pastor’s heart.”
Delgado said he was instructed to keep the news quiet until Thursday’s announcement, though he said he knew his Weston congregation would be thrilled with this new opportunity. He expects to tap into his long experience as a pastor in the region in his new role, though now “my vision has to be extended to the whole archdiocese,” he said.