Archbishop Nelson Pérez has appointed the Rev. Efren V. Esmilla the next pastor of St. James Parish in Elkins Park. Fr. Efren comes to St. James from Our Lady of Hope Parish on Broad Street, where he has been pastor since December 2006. While serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Hope, Fr. Efren has also served as Chaplain to the Filipino Apostolate, Spiritual Director to the Legion of Mary, Adjunct Spiritual Director at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and Dean of Deanery 12 in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Fr. Efren was ordained in 1993 and served for eight years as Parochial Vicar at St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. He then served two years at Maternity B.V.M. parish in Northeast Philadelphia before becoming Assistant Director of Pastoral/Apostolic Formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary for a year, followed by Director of the Spiritual Year in the Seminary. Fr. Efren then spent just under a year and a half as Parochial Vicar at St. Martha in Northeast Philadelphia before being named Pastor at Our Lady of Hope.
Fr. Efren earned a bachelor's degree from San Beda College in Manila, Philippines as well as a Master of Divinity degree from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
As Fr. Efren streamed his farewell mass at Our Lady of Hope on the parish's Facebook page, parishioners had many kind words for their outgoing pastor. Parishioner Cyra wrote, "Thank you Father Efren for being a friend to me, my family and friends. God BLESS". Hazel wrote, "Wishing Fathet Efren a successful transition. We will miss you 💖".
As he heads to St. James, Fr. Efren already expressed excitement that St. James Parish approaches a big milestone: in 2023, St. James Parish will be 100 years old.
Fr. Efren moves into St. James Rectory on Wednesday, July 8. May God bless him in his new ministry!