by Ed Wilkinson
Msgr. Joe Calise, the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Williamsburg, correctly summed it up. “If they had put it to a vote of the presbyterate, these guys would have been the first two choices,” he said.
He was referring to the selection of our two new bishops-elect, Msgrs. Raymond Chappetto and Paul Sanchez.
Two popular choices, to be sure! For the past few months, everyone in diocesan circles has been playing the guessing game of who will be the new auxiliary bishops. Always, the names of Msgrs. Chappetto and Sanchez were mentioned.
Yet when each one received the call from the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C., they both seemed surprised. Shocked might be more like it!
Msgr. Sanchez, who serves as the Episcopal Vicar for Queens, said he was uncertain whether it was really the nuncio on the other end of the line. Maybe, he thought, it was one of his buddies putting on an Italian accent and playing a joke.
Msgr. Chappetto was just as surprised. He took the call he said because he figured the nuncio wasn’t calling just to say hello.
On the morning that the selection was made public, the two new bishops-elect were on a whirlwind tour of the diocese. First it was a 10:30 a.m. taping at The NET for that evening’s Currents show. Then it was back to the diocesan offices at 310 Prospect Park West for the official press conference with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. And then a quick lunch and drive to Immaculate Conception Pastoral Center, Douglaston, for a regularly scheduled convocation of the diocese’s priests.
In Douglaston, they were warmly greeted by their brother-priests and properly saluted at the evening’s dinner.
These newest members of the episcopacy are popular because they both are pastoral priests. While both have served in administrative positions, neither has forgotten that they were ordained to be priests for people. They are parish priests in their hearts.
Parishioners at Our Lady of Snows parish already knew they were “losing” Msgr. Ray because he already had been named the new pastor of St. Kevin’s, Flushing, effective at the end of June. They weren’t happy to learn about the transfer, but Msgr. Ray’s 12-year term was complete and he was reassigned.
One of his great legacies at Snows is that he built a new church building for the parish. No easy task in this day and age. As was pointed out, it is already paid for.
Msgr. Sanchez, at the press conference, quickly pointed out that he had never built a church but he has renovated one when he was pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Astoria. Shortly, he will be named as a pastor to accompany his duties as auxiliary bishop.
Bishop-elect Chappetto cites the work of the New Evangelization and the upcoming Year of Faith as major priorities. Bishop-elect Sanchez agrees and adds, “I would like to think that we can support the priests who are on the front lines and the seminarians who are our future.”
Two historical footnotes: Bishops Chappetto and Sanchez are the third and fourth Territorial Episcopal Vicars to be named Bishops. The others were Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello and Bishop Octavio Cisneros. They also are the 17th and 18th priests to have been named auxiliary bishops for the Diocese of Brooklyn.