When Archbishop Nelson Perez was installed during a Feb. 18 Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, at least one of those in the pews could credit him as a major influence on his own vocation.

“He basically said to me, ‘What are you waiting for? The time is now; you need to do this,’” recalled permanent Deacon Bill Moser of St. William Parish in Philadelphia.

While pastor of that parish from 2002-2009, then-Msgr. Perez sensed that Moser, who teaches theology at Father Judge High School, was called to the permanent diaconate.

Moser and his wife Donna – a fellow Catholic school teacher who heads up the pre-K program at St. Cecilia Parish School – had even attended an information night on the vocation.

“We found out how much involvement the wife had to have, and since our son was in fifth grade at the time, there was no way I could have had that level of commitment,” said Donna. “So I told Bill that he had to wait, and when the time was right, we would know.”

“He basically said to me, ‘What are you waiting for? The time is now; you need to do this.’”

Bill said Archbishop Perez has always “seen in others what he knew they should be,” adding that he “truly felt that the Lord spoke” through his pastor to provide some much-needed confirmation of the path he’d been discerning.

Archbishop Perez wasn’t content with simply offering a few words of encouragement, Moser added. When a work commitment kept Moser from the next available diaconate information session, Archbishop Perez arranged for a private meeting so the educator could move forward with his vocation.

Donna wasn’t surprised by such follow-through. As one of the volunteers for the parish’s Wednesday night bingo gatherings, she was used to seeing the pastor at the games, where he would chat with players and workers.

“And he would make sure that sometime during the year, he took us to dinner, because he was grateful that we were serving the church,” she said. “He was never remiss in showing his gratitude, not just in words, and to have just a speck of that ability is something to aspire to.”

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