Seven priests of the Brooklyn Diocese are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their ordination as priests. Six of them were ordained on June 1, 1968 by Auxiliary Bishop John J. Boardman at St. James Pro-Cathedral in Downtown Brooklyn. Bishop Boardman was the ordaining prelate because Archbishop Bryan J. McEntegart was in poor health at the time. He died on Sept. 30, 1968.
Here are brief biographies of and information about the celebrations of the jubilarians:
Father Joseph W. Denzer, a retired priest of the diocese, will celebrate his anniversary privately.
A native of Ridgewood, he attended St. Matthias School; St. Pancras School, Glendale; Regis H.S., Manhattan; Cathedral College, Brooklyn; St. Bernard’s Seminary, Rochester; and St. Mary’s Seminary, Roland Park.
He served as a parochial vicar in St. Brendan’s parish, Midwood, and St. Malachy’s, East New York.
From 2001 to 2017, he was a member of the library staff at Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston.
In 2008, he moved into Bishop Mugavero Residence, Douglaston.
• • •
Father Casper Furnari, pastor of Holy Family, Fresh Meadows, will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving at the church on Sunday, May 20, at noon.
Born in Manhattan, he attended Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary School; Immaculata H.S., Manhattan; Cathedral College, Brooklyn; St. Bernard’s Seminary, Rochester; and St. Mary’s Pontifical Seminary and University, Baltimore, Md.
He served as an assistant at St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis, Brooklyn, 1968-80; Mary’s Nativity, Flushing, 1980-94; St. Jude, Canarsie, 1994-96; and Our Lady of the Snows, North Floral Park, 1996-98.
In 1998, he was appointed pastor of Queen of All Saints, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; and in 2003, as pastor of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, Bensonhurst.
In 2009, he was named administrator to Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello at Holy Family, where he became pastor in 2013.
• • •
Father William Krlis, pastor of Most Precious Blood parish, Long Island City, will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving there on Sunday, June 3, at 1 p.m.
It will be followed by a reception in the parish auditorium.
Born in Queens, he attended P.S. 6; St. Francis of Assisi School, Astoria; Cathedral Prep and College, Brooklyn; and then onto Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington.
He has done post-ordination studies at Fordham University; Instituto de Idiomas, Bolivia; and the Center for Spirituality and Justice.
He served as an assistant at Resurrection, Gerritsen Beach, 1968-73, and then was assigned to the Diocesan Religious Education Office, 1973-79.
In 1978, he also served as temporary administrator of St. Ann’s, Brooklyn.
In 1980, he was named pastor of Holy Cross, Flatbush, and later served as pastor at St. Therese of Lisieux, East Flatbush, 1984-92.
From 1992 to 1999, he was director of the Diocesan Buildings Office.
He was then named pastor at St. Leo’s, Corona, where he served until 2008 when he became pastor at Most Precious Blood.
He has been a member of the Priests Senate, the Presbyteral Council, the College of Consultors and the Permanent Diaconate Evaluation Committee, as well as administrator of St. Patrick’s parish, Long Island City.
• • •
Father Richard Lewkiewicz, a retired priest living at Our Lady of Angels rectory, Bay Ridge, will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving at the church on Sunday, June 3.
Born in Manhattan, he attended Cathedral College, Brooklyn, and then the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington.
He has served as an assistant at four parishes in the diocese: Blessed Sacrament, Cypress Hills, 1968-79; St. Camillus, Rockaway Park, 1979-88; Good Shepherd, Marine Park, 1988-98; and Our Lady of Angels, 1998-2017.
• • •
Msgr. James Spengler, who is retired and lives at Bishop Mugavero Residence, Douglaston, attended St. Michael Elementary School, East New York; Bishop Loughlin H.S., Fort Greene; Cathedral College, Brooklyn; and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington.
After summer language studies in Puerto Rico, he served as an assistant at St. Ambrose, Bedford-Stuyvesant, 1968-77; Our Lady of Mercy, Brownsville, 1977-91; and St. Gerard Majella, Hollis, 1991-99.
From 1999 to 2004, he was Episcopal Vicar for Queens South.
He served as pastor at Holy Cross, Flatbush, 2004-07; and at St. Rose of Lima, Rockaway Beach, 2007-15.
He retired in 2015.
• • •
Father Joseph Vella is a retired Brooklyn priest living in Gozo, Malta.
Born in Zebbug, Gozo, Malta, he attended the local elementary school followed by the Lyceum H.S., Victoria, Gozo; and the diocesan major seminary in Gozo.
He was ordained to the priesthood on May 11, 1968, by Bishop Cauci at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Victoria, Gozo, Malta.
He started his ministry in the Diocese of Brooklyn, the following September. He served at Queen of Angels in Sunnyside, 1968-69; and St. Joseph’s, Astoria, 1969-79.
In 1979, he became a U.S. Air Force chaplain, serving at several bases on the mainland and in Germany, Iceland, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In 1999, he retired from the Air Force with the rank of Major.
After a year’s study sabbatical at the North American College, Rome, he returned to the Diocese in 2000 and served at St. Elizabeth, Woodhaven; Our Lady of the Cenacle, Richmond Hill; and St Mark’s, Sheepshead Bay.
In 2011, he retired from the Diocese of Brooklyn for health reasons and returned to live in Malta.
For the last six years he has served as chaplain on several cruises, and he helps out at the local parishes.
• • •
Father John Vesey, pastor of St. Michael’s Church, Flushing, will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving at the church on Sunday, June 3.
Born in Brooklyn, he attended Holy Name School, Windsor Terrace; Power Memorial Academy, Manhattan; and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.
He has done post-ordination studies at Catholic University, Ponce, P.R.; St. John’s University, Jamaica; and Barry University, Miami, where he was awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree.
He served as an assistant at Holy Family, Park Slope, 1968-74, before being assigned to the diocesan mission in the Diocese of Coronel Oviedo, Paraguay, where he served as secretary of the Episcopal Commission on the Permanent Diaconate and executive secretary of the Episcopal Catechetical Commission.
From 1981 to 1984, he was an assistant at St. Ann’s, Brooklyn, and Visitation B.V.M., Red Hook.
In 1984, he began a 13-year stint in the Diocese of Solola, Guatemala. In addition to being a pastor there, he also served as director of the Human Rights Office and Vicar General.
He also served as the executive director of the Family Life Commission for the Conference of Bishops and executive director of the National Catechetical Commission.
Returning to Brooklyn, he was an assistant at Holy Cross, Flatbush, 1997-2001; Blessed Sacrament, Cypress Hills, 2001-05; and St. Brigid’s, Bushwick, 2005.
He then served for nine years with Maryknoll in the Republic of China.
In 2014, he was named pastor at St. Michael’s.