As Bishop-designate Ed Scharfenberger prepares to become the bishop of Albany, N.Y., on Thursday, April 10, he is spending time juggling his duties as episcopal vicar for Queens and taking care of the necessary arrangements in his soon-to-be home.
One of the tough things is trying to answer all the requests for his presence, as his many friends and associates want to congratulate him and wish him luck.
A case in point was last Sunday. The newly named bishop celebrated two Masses in Queens before heading north to spend Monday and Tuesday in the state capital.
At Our Lady of the Angelus Church, Rego Park, Father John Mendonca, pastor, thanked Msgr. Scharfenberger for celebrating the 10 a.m. Mass. He told the congregation that the new bishop is “very gifted, very talented and he always has a smile on his face.”
Describing Msgr. Scharfenberger’s “vast pastoral experience” and his credentials as both a canon and civil lawyer, he said someone had remarked that “he should have been made a bishop 10 years ago.”
Parishioners were delighted to see the bishop-designate. They listened attentively as he preached a homily about the presence of evil in the world and how Jesus offers peace and stability amidst the chaos of sin.
“There is no evil in God,” said Bishop-designate Scharfenberger. “God is love. There’s no room for evil in God. God is happy. God is joyful.”
He urged parishioners not to get caught up in the philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
“Jesus gives us all good advice – turn the other cheek,” he said. “How many people here have been saved because someone showed a little patience! How many people’s lives have been changed because of someone else’s kindness and patience! In order to be free, let go of all resentment. Violence is never an answer to violence.”
After Mass, Msgr. Scharfenberger was surrounded by Massgoers, shaking his hand and asking for blessings.
Marie Jackson, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Angelus for 25 years, said she had been homebound for the past three weeks because of the weather.
“It was a blessing just to get out of the house,” she said. “And then the bishop gave me a special blessing. It was something magnificent.”
Deacon Cesar Yazstremski who recently completed his theology studies at SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Mich., and will be ordained a priest for the Brooklyn Diocese on June 29, praised the celebrant’s personality and ability to communicate.
By 11:30 a.m., Msgr. Scharfenberger was in Hollis where he joined the folks at St. Gerard Majella parish.
Father Josephjude Gannon, pastor, said he presented the new bishop with a St. Gerard hoodie from its World Youth Day collection. Parishioners also blessed the vicar, and Father Gannon blessed him with the relic of the parish patron.
“He’s a great priest,” said Father Gannon. “We’re going to miss him here. He’s a true witness to the faith, very authentic, very compassionate. All he wants to do is serve the Church.”
All qualities that will serve him well as he prepares to lead the people of Albany.