A Priest Up to the Challenge


Life in New York City is always a challenge, but Leury Perez, a 17-year-old priest in the Inwood First Ward, New York New York Stake, seems to take it all in stride. When he’s not winning piano performance competitions, attending early-morning seminary, studying for school, organizing youth conference as a stake youth leader, or leading the local Scout troop as senior patrol leader, he helps his busy single mom, Bienvenida (below with Leury), at home.

Leury belongs to a priests quorum of one, so he carries a lot of responsibility. “I have been visiting a lot of people who can’t go to church and taking them the sacrament on Sundays. I also go home teaching,” says Leury.

Priests quorum lessons this year have explored mission preparation, and Leury credits the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet; the Duty to God program; his adviser, Jonathan Horey; and his bishop, Mark Johnson, with helping him keep his eye on the goal of a mission. “I would like to go to Japan,” says Leury. “It seems like a cool place to go.”

“Having Leury active in the priests quorum tremendously blesses my life,” says Bienvenida. “He loves the Church and is very spiritual. I want to be an example for him, but he ends up being an example to me in many ways.”

Bienvenida moved to New York from the Dominican Republic in 1974 and was baptized into the Church seven years later. Leury was born and raised in New York and joined the Church when he was 10 years old. At age 7 Leury started taking piano lessons and developed into a fine young pianist, winning several competitions. After serving a mission Leury hopes to attend college, where he plans to major in computer animation and programming and to minor in music.

What is the Perez family’s secret to keeping it all together? “Knowing the commandments helps us to stay focused on the important things in life,” says Bienvenida. “As a single mom with two jobs, I know that the Church is very important. Seeing Leury blossom in the faith gives me a sense of happiness that I cannot quantify.”

Photography by Michael Chipman

Michael Chipman is a member of the Manhattan Third Ward, New York New York Stake.