Meet the first Latina woman to become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close, a pioneer and priest loved by many like Mother Jessie isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

The Church of the Crucifixion is a pillar in the heart of South Philly. Come Sunday morning, you never know what to expect behind the angelic doors.

Mother Jessie is the first Latina woman to become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Philadelphia.

On Sunday, parishioners danced in celebration of his birthday. In turn, she serenaded the group with a mariachi band.

“I used to tell my mum when I was 5 or 6, that one day I will be a nun,” said Mother Jessie.

CBS3 encountered this for the first time humble servant in February. She came to Philadelphia in 1991 after leaving her home in Puerto Rico.

“The Latino community is not used to seeing a female priest,” said. “So when I came in as a priest, they were like, where did she come from?”

Today, 30 years later, this pioneer is still in service.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what do you do for others?” said Mother Jessie.

Her advocacy work in Kensington has garnered national attention.

“Now I look back and think to myself that I have grown so much,” said Mother Jessie.

More recently, Mother Jessie spent time in Norristown with United To Serve. The grassroots organization provides resources to the Hispanic community.

“Medical assistance like Medicare, Medicaid, lawyers when they have immigration or family matters and also food,” one woman said.

And Mother Jessie won’t be slowing down anytime soon. She helps open churches all over the world.

“I went to North Carolina to Kanuga and there I did community service in Tennessee,” Mother Jessie said. “You have to get to know people. You also have to let people know who you are.”

And for Mother Jessie, it starts with a hug.

Now Mother Jessie is spearheading missionary work to help those in Puerto Rico.

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