by Jim Mancari
“God works in mysterious ways.”
This famous saying can be seen vividly in the recent episcopal ordination of Bishop Paul Sanchez as one of the new Auxiliary Bishops of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Bishop Sanchez has four nieces – Laura Keady, Eileen Kennedy, Tara Kennedy and Jeannie Kennedy – who are the daughters of his sister and brother-in-law Marie and Larry Kennedy. Though he speaks to his nieces quite often, it’s very rare that all four are together with him at the same time.
Jeannie resides in Astoria and Laura lives in New Jersey, so Bishop Sanchez gets to see them occasionally. However, Tara lives in Denver and Eileen in Campbell, Calif., so it’s much more difficult for these two to arrange a visit.
Each year, the four sisters plan a family trip to New York sometime during the summer to visit their parents in Massapequa Park, L.I. This year, the trip was scheduled for mid-July.
Sure enough, when Bishop Sanchez notified his sister Marie that he had been selected as an Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, he said the ordination ceremony would take place July 11 at Our Lady of Angels in Bay Ridge – the exact time when all four sisters would be home.
Marie actually had never seen her brother ordained, so it was a special feeling that she was able to experience her first ordination ceremony with her four daughters.
“I think it was done from above,” Tara said. “I get home about twice a year, and it just so happened that this was the week that we had already planned. To me, that just suggests that somebody is looking out for all of us.”
Each of the sisters commented on what a great coincidence this was for their family.
“Isn’t that wonderful?” Laura said. “I’m so happy, and for him, I think it’s even more meaningful because a lot of times, just Jeannie and I wind up going to things because we’re closer to New York. It really was just dumb luck, and it’s wonderful that it all happened.”
“I don’t know what to say about it, but I’m so pleased and happy that we were here to celebrate with him,” Eileen said.
All four were also thoroughly impressed with the beautiful ceremony to honor their uncle.
“I saw him (Bishop Sanchez) made a monsignor, but it was not nearly as elaborate an event as this was today,” Jeannie said. “It was really very moving. Just the amount of people that came out, the amount of bishops who came from as far as they did to be here on what I consider to be a monumental day, it really was very special.”
“I thought it was great,” Tara said. “I obviously have never experienced something like that before. I’m just so happy for him.”
Not only were Bishop Sanchez’s nieces happy for him, but they were also elated to see the diocesan support that both their uncle and Bishop Chappetto received at the ordination ceremony.
“The thing that I was always touched by with my uncle was that he had so many parishioners that would come up to him and speak to him,” Eileen said. “It’s just so touching to see it in front of all these other people that have heard about him and now come to celebrate with him in being ordained as a bishop.”
Bishop Sanchez has always taken special care of his nieces, including bringing them all to the beach when they were young. However, in the weeks leading up the ordination, Bishop Sanchez wasn’t able to correspond with his nieces as frequently as normal since he was busy with his preparation.
“I know he was stressed,” Laura said. “This is a big assignment. He’s very dedicated to his work, so I’m sure he wants to do the best he can, and I’m sure there’s some stress involved with that.”
While his new responsibilities will be time consuming and perhaps stressful, Bishop Sanchez will always place his family above all else, and he looks forward to sharing many more memories with his nieces.
“The support and the love that he’s shown for us has been there for as long as I can remember,” Jeannie said. “He’s just a real treasure for our family. I have long considered him to be a second father to me. He has a huge spot in my heart.”