PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Paul Sanchez of Brooklyn remembers in 2012 when he received the call that Pope Benedict had named him auxiliary bishop, the apostolic nuncio told him that “you will be very happy in this ministry.”
Now, as Bishop Sanchez enters retirement almost 10 years after his ordination as an auxiliary bishop, he says the nuncio was right, calling those words “prescient.”
“Truly, it’s been a wonderful experience of happiness … because of the opportunity to be present to people, to continue to be a part of their life, to celebrate with them so often,” Bishop Sanchez told The Tablet.
Pope Francis on Wednesday morning accepted the resignation of Bishop Sanchez.
Bishop Sanchez was ordained as an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Brooklyn on July 11, 2012. He submitted his resignation to the Holy Father on his 75th birthday, as all bishops are required to do by Canon Law, on Nov. 26, 2021.
On Wednesday morning, Bishop Robert Brennan thanked Bishop Sanchez, saying the “Catholic community of Brooklyn and Queens is better because of Bishop Sanchez’s commitment to teaching the good news of Jesus Christ.”
“I am grateful for his guidance, and very much appreciate his will to remain as a spiritual leader here in our diocese,” Bishop Brennan said in a statement.
In Bishop Sanchez’s capacity as auxiliary bishop emeritus, he will remain pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills, where he has served since 2012.
He told The Tablet he asked Bishop Brennan to stay on as pastor, adding that it’s been a “wonderful local experience” that has been a “great support” for him.
“The people themselves come with so many blessings, but also with difficulties and problems, and I enjoy listening to them, trying to support them, encourage them, and their witness also encourages me,” Bishop Sanchez said. “And I’m blessed with two associates and a deacon and a wonderful parish staff.”
Bishop Sanchez was born on Nov. 26, 1946, in Brooklyn. He studied at St. Bonaventure University — one of the nation’s first Franciscan universities — which is located in St. Bonaventure, New York. He holds a Master of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Bishop Sanchez, who was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 17, 1971, served several parishes in Brooklyn and Queens and was named vicariate coordinator for the diocesan Liturgical Commission in January 1975. He also served as a member of the diocesan Presbyteral Council, and as a sub-committee member of the International Committee Committee on English in the Liturgy.
In 1997, then-Father Sanchez was named a monsignor by St. John Paul II. He previously served as an adjunct professor at St. John’s University at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception.
Beyond serving as pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Bishop Sanchez hasn’t given much thought to what else retirement will hold. He acknowledges he’ll have more time to read, rest, exercise, and travel as the pandemic opens up, but not much else is set in stone.
“At the moment, my classmates with whom I was ordained 50 years ago are planning a reunion in May, and I have signed up to be a part of that so I’ll be able to reconnect with some of them,” Bishop Sanchez said. “Beyond that, I haven’t mapped out a path yet. I have to give further thought to that.”