by Jim Mancari
Msgr. Edward Scharfenberger, currently the pastor of St. Matthias parish, Ridgewood, was officially installed April 20 as the new episcopal vicar for Queens.
He had been serving in that position since Jan. 31, but the installation Mass, celebrated by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio at St. Matthias, was the formal public decree of his new post.
Msgr. Scharfenberger takes over for Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez, who served as vicar even after being raised to the episcopacy in July, 2012. He joins Msgr. Joseph Grimaldi, the episcopal vicar for Brooklyn, as a direct advisor to Bishop DiMarzio.
“It’s a tremendous responsibility,” Msgr. Scharfenberger said. “But it’s a great opportunity also to get around to the parishes and be a priest to the priests as well.”
The bishop appointed Msgr. Scharfenberger based on the latter’s dedicated service to the diocese over the years. Bishop DiMarzio said that he was a great choice for the position because he can speak a multitude of languages and is an effective communicator.
In his homily, Bishop DiMarzio spoke of how Msgr. Scharfenberger has served as a good shepherd to the Diocese of Brooklyn and St. Matthias.
“He (Msgr. Scharfenberger) certainly is a good shepherd to the parish,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “He speaks to all the people of the parish, usually in their own languages.”
With his parents in the front row, Msgr. Scharfenberger, who said he was honored to be considered for the position of vicar, took the oath of his new office. A representative from each parish in Queens was on hand for the ceremony.
Msgr. Scharfenberger accepted the responsibility of his new office and was presented with a stole signifying the position and a list of all the parishes in Queens that he will serve.
Msgr. Scharfenberger will remain pastor of St. Matthias for the next six months. It will be a busy time for him as he serves in both roles, but he has already begun reaching out to each parish in Queens.
“With all the experience that he’s (Msgr. Scharfenberger) had, he’ll be able to deal with any situation I’m sure,” said Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto.
Msgr. Scharfenberger – a baseball fan – likened his new position to running a ball game in that it’s now his job to ensure that “all the players are in the right place.”
“Like playing ball, I see my role as learning what to do by playing it,” he said. “You have to get your feet wet by doing it. Since I’m so new at it, I’m learning as I go along.”
Some of his new responsibilities include serving on the diocesan assignment board; supervising the process of renewing pastors in Queens; and overseeing the smooth functioning of the parishes in Queens.
The new role will include significant communication and networking, and Msgr. Scharfenberger said he is up to the challenge. He said he would do his best to keep a constant line of communication between the people and the parishes.
Larry Martin, a long-time parishioner at St. Matthias, said he would be sorry to see Msgr. Scharfenberger leave the parish in a few months, but he also said that the pastor is well deserving of the honor of vicar.
“He’s (Msgr. Scharfenberger) an excellent speaker, and he’s very interesting,” Martin said.
Other parishioners agreed with Martin. “He’s (Msgr. Scharfenberger) so articulate,” said Joseph Wilfinger. “You hang onto every word when he speaks. Whatever God’s will holds in store for him, that’s what I wish for him.”
“Everyone admires him (Msgr. Scharfenberger),” said Mary Ciotta. “He’ll do a wonderful job.”