PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Soon after 2 p.m. on Nov. 30, Bishop Robert Brennan accepted the pastoral staff from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and took a seat in the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, near the altar at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph.
At that moment, Bishop Brennan was officially installed as the Eighth Bishop of Brooklyn, succeeding Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who served the diocese for the past 18 years.
“This is home now,” Bishop Brennan said during his homily later in the Mass. “I look forward to living and praying among you and serving you with every ounce of my being.”
The celebration started at 1:20 p.m. with a procession of priests into the co-cathedral, followed by a second procession of all 46 bishops and cardinals in attendance.
Bishop Brennan was at the back, followed only by his deacons. When he arrived at the cathedral entrance, the doors had closed, and he subsequently knocked on them with a gold mallet — per a centuries-old ritual — before entering.
Through both processions, music was played by students from Bishop Brennan’s alma mater, St. John the Baptist High School. Bishop Brennan went over to welcome them ahead of the processions and gave them a thumbs-up as he climbed the cathedral steps.
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After Bishop Brennan entered the co-cathedral, the doors closed and Cardinal Dolan introduced him to the Diocese of Brooklyn’s bishops. Bishop Raymond Chappetto, a senior bishop of the diocese, presented Bishop Brennan with a crucifix, which Bishop Brennan kissed.
Bishop Neil Tiedemann, the next most senior bishop of the diocese, then presented Holy Water to Bishop Brennan, who in turn sprinkled it on those standing around him by the church doors.
The installation Mass started after the 46 bishops and cardinals in attendance took their places on the altar. There were about 1,200 people in attendance, including about 300 priests, laypersons and other religious leaders in the diocese, and family and friends of Bishop Brennan.
Now officially Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop DiMarzio began the proceedings with a brief greeting. Next, he welcomed Bishop Brennan, saying, “We wish him the best,” and “we pray for him.” Cardinal Dolan followed with brief remarks, thanking Bishop DiMarzio for his years of service and then welcoming Bishop Brennan as a bishop in New York City.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, then took the pulpit to welcome Bishop Brennan to the diocese and highlight his work as an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and as the Bishop of Columbus, Ohio.
“Your excellency, as a bishop, you know about building communion among people,” Archbishop Pierre said. “You have distinguished yourself as a shepherd in Rockville Centre and in the Diocese of Columbus.”
Pierre also labeled the Diocese of Brooklyn a multicultural diocese that continues to “flourish.” He acknowledged Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and his years of service to the diocese, which was followed by a lengthy standing ovation from all in attendance.
“Thank you, Bishop DiMarzio, for your faithful service; for your great leadership,” Archbishop Pierre said.
Pope Francis accepted Bishop DiMarzio’s resignation on Sept. 29, the day Bishop Brennan was appointed to the diocese by Pope Francis. After Archbishop Pierre spoke, Bishop Brennan presented his appointment letter to the college of consultors and then walked through the co-cathedral displaying the document to the faithful.
When Bishop Brennan returned to the altar, he was presented with the pastoral staff and took a seat in the cathedra, where he was met by thunderous applause. He then came to the center of the altar and was approached by diocesan representatives and clergy and representatives of other faiths, who welcomed him to the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Bishop Brennan led the Mass from that point, which included his first homily in the diocese.
He anchored his homily with references to St. Andrew, one of Jesus’s apostles, whose Feast Day was Nov. 30. In particular, he highlighted how St. Andrew was a missionary of the faith, and through that example, he thanked the priests and men and women religious for their work.
“Like Andrew, you are out in the community among God’s people, on the front lines of hope,” Bishop Brennan said of priests. “You know the needs and longings. You are involved in the lives of your parishioners, walking with them and sharing their joys and sorrows, hopes and burdens.”
He said of the men and women religious that they “live out the charisms of your community and remind of deeper realities” in a prophetic way.
Bishop Brennan also acknowledged that the Diocese of Brooklyn is “truly” the diocese of immigrants, to say that “together with the joy of the gospel, we are called to be like Andrew and work together to share the good news.”
During Communion, Bishop Brennan stood alongside Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark in front of the altar, with Bishop DiMarzio to their right and Archbishop Pierre to their left.
Bishop Brennan again thanked Bishop DiMarzio in closing remarks, saying he had “such great foresight” for the diocese, which “set us on a path to a great future.”
His last message was a simple “thank you” to all those in attendance and those that made the day possible.