Eighteen years ago, the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio was appointed by His Holiness, Pope Saint John Paul II, as the bishop of Brooklyn. In those 18 years, the world, the city, and the Church have changed much, but the Diocese of Brooklyn has had a steady hand guiding it.
Bishop DiMarzio has proven to be a true shepherd to all in the diocese, a loving father to his priests, and an example of faith, hope, and charity even in the face of opposition and calumnies.
And now, the time has come for Bishop DiMarzio to have a long-awaited retirement from the role of the ordinary of the Diocese of Brooklyn. His are big shoes to fill, and it took time for His Holiness, Pope Francis, to find us the very best bishop he could send to serve as the new shepherd and chief pastor in Brooklyn and Queens.
Pope Francis’ appointment of the Most Rev. Robert J. Brennan as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn is a true blessing. All who know Bishop Brennan speak of his kindness, his gentleness, his holiness, and his humility. Ordained a priest of our sister diocese, Rockville Centre, Bishop Brennan’s ministries included service as a parochial vicar, a pastor, and many diocesan administrative roles, including that of vicar general, which essentially means being the number-two cleric in a diocese. In 2012, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recognized the abilities and pastoral skills of then-Msgr. Brennan and appointed him an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
In 2019, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Brennan to the Diocese of Columbus, where he soon became a dynamic, personable, loving servant of the people of God there. He did much for morale in the Diocese of Columbus, and all who have encountered him there have stated they will truly miss him as he begins his new ministry in Brooklyn and Queens.
One needs only to look at the very busy first day Bishop Brennan had when he was announced as Brooklyn’s new bishop to see his priorities. Bishop Brennan began the day with Holy Mass, concelebrated with Bishop DiMarzio. This indicates his ultimate goal and the source of his true strength — Christ Jesus in the Eucharist.
From there, his news conference demonstrated his priorities are people and his pastoral heart. He certainly was able to handle all questions posed to him, as well as show how he believes that we as a Church need to use new means of communicating the basic message that “God is real, God matters, and that God loves you!” Our new bishop also addressed the Spanish-speaking people of our diocese, who, along with our many other ethnic apostolates, will be a great source of joy and strength to Bishop Brennan.
Bishop Brennan demonstrated his love and appreciation of Catholic education with his visit to Saint Saviour High School. No doubt, education and catechesis will be a priority in his episcopal ministry. Bishop Brennan’s evening took him to Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, where he prayed Vespers with the College level seminarians and shared a meal. The joy of his priesthood certainly will inspire many young men to consider the vocation of the priesthood.
Yes, the Diocese of Brooklyn should feel blessed with its new bishop, and we all look forward to his installation on November 30. We are blessed by the ministry of Bishop DiMarzio, and we thank the Lord for his years of service to us. With the help of God, we can trust that the episcopal motto of Bishop Brennan will be ours — “Thy will be done.”