Father Luis M. Silva Cervantes
He Aspired to a Priestly Vocation Early in His Native Mexico
By ARMANDO MACHADO
The place of vocation aspiration for Father Luis M. Silva Cervantes was the city of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco in his native Mexico. The place of vocation realization for Father Silva, 35, is the Archdiocese of New York.
“I was only nine years old, that’s when I first shared with my mother that I wanted to be a priest,” Father Silva told Catholic New York. “I wanted to be like my parish priest.” Father Silva said that he struggled with his faith as a teenager. When he was 20, his mother died after battling breast cancer. She was his first faith mentor.
“It was at her funeral Mass that for the first time in a long time I felt this peace, and I started going to Mass again,” he said, adding that his older brother Alfredo, an active church volunteer, helped him to restore his faith at that time. (Alfredo was his second faith mentor).
He noted that his priestly discernment was a bit complicated. “I first came here from Mexico in 2012 to study at Dunwoodie (first at the minor seminary in Douglaston, Queens, to study ESL). I left after 15 months in December 2013 and returned in April 2016.” He explained there was back and forth in his discernment, citing an earlier intention to eventually marry and raise a family.
“I was finally able to see clearly that this is what God wants, that this is the vocation where I was going to be absolutely happy,” Father Silva said. “I knew that He would use me as an instrument to reach out to his people—to help them hear the message of salvation and love.”
In recent years, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard in Manhattan has been his home parish. His childhood parish was Santa Martha in Guadalajara.
He is the son of Julio Silva Anaya and Maria Guadalupe Cervantes Hernandez; his mother died in October 2005. His brothers are Alfredo Silva Cervantes and Victor Silva Cervantes, and his sister is Maria Guadalupe Silva Cervantes.
Father Silva earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2012 from Seminario de Señor San José in Guadalajara. He graduated from a high school called Centro Universitario UTEG, in Guadalajara.
The first apostolic assignment for Father Silva was serving at the Immigration Center of Mercy Center in the Bronx, helping Hispanic immigrants with immigration forms, from January to May 2017. The second assignment was at St. Joseph Medical Center in Yonkers, where he visited and brought Communion to the sick in the hospital and to the elderly in the nursing home section, from September 2017 to May 2018.
His third apostolic assignment was at the Westchester County Department of Correction in Valhalla, where he visited prisoners in the Solutions (substance abuse) section, and assisted with formative and motivational talks in the mental health section, from September 2018 to May 2019.
His diaconate assignment at Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady in Tuckahoe, November 2019 to March 2020, was shortened because of Covid-19 restrictions. His summer parish assignments were at Sacred Heart in the Bronx, St. Joseph in Middletown, and Calvary Hospital and Holy Cross parish in the Bronx.
Father Silva will offer his first Mass, in English and Spanish, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Scarsdale, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 28. The homilist will be Father Thomas A. Lynch, the pastor, whom Father Silva regards as a friend and his third faith mentor.
Father Roland P. Pereira, M.Id.
New Idente Priest at Home With ‘Simplicity and Humility’
By CHRISTIE L. CHICOINE
The intersection of creation and cosmology intrigues Father Roland P. Pereira, M.Id. “We should not be afraid of surprises” or of “not knowing” but, rather, welcome “a sense of awe.” At the same time, “We need God, we need a Creator to explain and give meaning and purpose to what we’re doing in science.”
The 37-year-old Idente Missionary priest, who has an engineering and computer science background, said the order’s charism of “simplicity and humility” resonates with him. “The focus is your heart,” he said. “How pure is your heart?”
He resides at Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead, Long Island, a parish served by the Idente Missionaries. There he has served as director of youth and young adult ministry. He is also vice president of Idente Youth USA and coordinator of World Youth Parliament USA.
Our Lady of Loretto in Hempstead has been his home parish since 2014. Born in Puttur, Karnataka, India, he grew up in Bangalore.
He speaks four languages: Hindi; Kannada, the state language of Karnataka; Konkani, the mother tongue; and English. He is learning Spanish.
Leisure activities have included, ping pong, cricket, soccer and running. Running, he said, is “a battle of the mind” in the push for “one more lap” and provides time and space for “a dialogue with God.”
Among those who have been integral to his vocation is Bishop-elect Luis Miguel Romero Fernandez, M.Id., an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, whom he met India in 2011 when then-Father Romero was the provincial superior of the Idente Missionaries.
“We began weekly conversations that transitioned into weekly spiritual direction,” Father Pereira said. “He was instrumental in introducing me to the charism, then journeying with me all along until the point of entrance into common life in 2014 in New York.
“It did not stop there,” Father Pereira said. “Before my coming to New York, Father Luis Miguel was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Loretto Church in Hempstead. After my arrival in New York to our formation house in the Bronx, I was transferred to Our Lady of Loretto Church.
“Apart from the many virtues he has, the thing that attracted me to him was the fact that he was a biologist and a priest. Coming from a computer science background myself, this was intriguing.”
The eldest of three children of Charles and Lancy Pereira, he has a brother, Rohan, and a sister, Reanna. “I grew up in a normal practicing Catholic family. We went to Sunday Mass. I was an altar server. On a serious level, I began looking toward religious life in 2010, when I was 26 years old. The seeds though were sown early in my days in the youth group.”
He attended St. Joseph’s Indian High School and St. Joseph’s Pre-University College, both in Bangalore.
He entered the Idente Missionaries in 2014, and made final vows in 2019.
He earned a bachelor of engineering degree in computer science from Visveswariah Technological University in Belgaum, Karnataka, India, and masters’ degrees in divinity, theology and Catholic philosophical studies from St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie.
Father Pereira will celebrate his first Mass Sunday, June 28, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Loretto Church in Hempstead. Bishop-elect Romero, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, will deliver the homily.
Father Oisin Emmanuel Martin, C.F.R.
After Inauspicious Start,
He Quickly Felt at Home
With the Friars
By DAN PIETRAFESA
Father Oisin Emmanuel Martin, C.F.R., laughs now reflecting back on his first visit with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in 2007.
“They thought I was a homeless man,” Father Oisin Emmanuel, 44, told CNY.
His flight from Dublin to London was late, and he missed his bus in London, forcing him to wait an hour for the next one. He arrived at the friary at 11:30 p.m., instead of 7 p.m., and could not reach anyone by phone to let him into the friary.
“It’s dark. It’s wet. It’s damp,” he recalled. “I’m like ‘Lord, what do I do?’ and I got this clearest answer, which I wasn’t expecting. What would St. Francis do? I looked up at this tall fence and somehow I realized St. Francis would climb the fence.”
Father Oisin Emmanuel climbed the fence to enter the friary grounds, not realizing there was anti-climb paint, a non-drying anti-intruder paint, on the top of the fence that dirtied his clothes. Once on the grounds, he found a piece of cardboard and fell asleep outside against the friary wall.
The friars discovered him the next morning.
“After a few days in the friary, I realized I felt at home there,” he said. “The three aspects of their life responded to the desires of my heart, the priority of prayer, first and foremost, the love and fraternity amongst the brothers, and the work for the poor and evangelization.”
Father Oisin Emmanuel said he experienced a conversion at the Marian shrine in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Blessed Virgin Mary is alleged to have appeared to six teenagers in 1981. (Last year, the Vatican sanctioned pilgrimages to the site, although it has not officially sanctioned the apparitions.) He returned there each year until joining the friars.
A native of Dublin, Ireland, he graduated from Dublin City University with a bachelor’s degree in business. He studied philosophy at Maryvale in the United Kingdom and Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., before studying theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie.
Father Martin’s parents, Liam and Mary, and sister, Aoife, still live in Ireland. His brother, Tomas, resides in New Zealand, and another sister, Sive, and her family live in Japan. Family members were able to watch his Mass of Ordination at Most Blessed Sacrament Friary in Newark, N.J., May 30, via Facebook Live.
“When I joined the Franciscans, at first you feel the weight of being separated from your family, but over time you see that the Lord feeds your heart and he is already respondent to your concerns,” he said. “They, in a very real way, feel part of the CFR family. It’s mixed emotions, sadness they’re not there, but there is a joy that they have been a major part of this journey and are very much part of the CFR family already.”
Father Martin’s first assignment will be in Limerick, Ireland.
“Like every other Irishman, I’ll have a cup of tea before I do anything else,” he said of returning to Ireland. “I hope to visit my parents and celebrate Mass with them.
“I’m looking forward to seeing people I love and miss.”
Father Malachy Joseph Napier, C.F.R.
Man With Five Brothers Found His Place With the Friars
By DAN PIETRAFESA
Father Malachy Joseph Napier, C.F.R., sat at Saturday Vigil Mass one day in May 2000 listening to seminarians share their stories of God’s call in their lives when he suddenly received his first calling to the priesthood.
“I heard in my heart a clear question came, ‘Would you be a priest for me too?’” the 38-year-old friar told CNY. “It surprised me. It shocked me. I remember looking around the church and thinking that was really weird and it came again. This clear question and invitation, this voice of the Lord speaking in my heart, ‘Would you be a priest for me, too?’
“That was the first time being a priest was even a possibility for my life. At that time, I wasn’t ready for it and ran in the opposite direction for quite a while.”
Father Malachy eventually decided to become a priest, and the Georgia native spent a year discerning in the Diocese of Savannah, Ga., before realizing diocesan priesthood wasn’t his path.
In the summer of 2002, he was assisting the Missionaries of Charity at their summer camp at St. Rita’s in the Bronx, where he met the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal for the first time. He entered the friars in 2008 and professed final vows in 2014.
“I found this way of life gave the clearest expression to what was in my heart to be totally given to Jesus and to the poor, and to do that with brothers,” he said.
“The brotherhood was huge. They’re living like a family. I’ve got five brothers and I don’t know how to live without brothers in community.”
Father Malachy is the second of eight children to Bill and Cynthia Napier and is the brother of Daniel, Michael, Nathan, Mitchell, Chris, Elizabeth and Abbie. He was raised in Augusta, Ga., where he earned bachelor’s degrees in English literature and Spanish from Augusta University before studying for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie.
His parents and brother Chris attended his ordination at Most Blessed Sacrament Friary in Newark, N.J., May 30.
“It’s beyond words to describe the love I’ve received from my mother and father,” he said. “I was overjoyed they could be there that day. They deserved to share that joy because without them I wouldn’t know God. I wouldn’t have my faith. They’ve been a gift to me in so many ways.”
Father Malachy will soon return to his hometown parish church in Augusta to celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving.
“It’ll be a joy to share that day with many people that would have loved to be here with me and couldn’t be because of the COVID situation,” he said. “I’m grateful to God that opportunity is there and to be able to share it with people who walked with me on the journey.”
Following Mass, he’ll leave for his first mission as a priest in Nicaragua, where he served as a brother for two years.
“There are a lot of people I love and know already down there, it’ll be good to be with them,” he said. “Whatever mission Jesus has, I’m ready for it and excited for it.”
Father Malachy will offer a Mass of thanksgiving at St. Joseph’s Church in Augusta, Ga., his family’s parish when he was growing up. Father Stephen Dufrene, C.F.R., will serve as homilist.