Diocesan News

Bishop Celebrates 75th Birthday in Bensonhurst

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio receives a birthday cake at the end of Mass June 16, at St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst. The pastoral visit to the parish coincided with his 75th birthday. (Photo: Catholic News Service)

By Tim Harfmann

On June 16, the day Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio submitted his resignation to the Vatican as required by every bishop when they turn 75, the Brooklyn bishop celebrated Mass at St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst.

Students from the parish’s Catholic academy and religious education program presented Bishop DiMarzio with flowers and a cake.

“It was an honor that he wanted to come to our church on his birthday,” said parishioner Annalisa Conte. “I think the whole parish was proud to have him here.”

“He’s a good role model for Catholics to practice faith and our beliefs,” said Angelina Simonetti, another parishioner.

Meanwhile, it’s now up to Pope Francis to accept Bishop DiMarzio’s resignation and appoint a successor.

“Normally it’s a process of six months to a year when they find somebody to take your place,” Bishop DiMarzio said.

“Then once it’s announced, you become the apostolic administrator until the new bishop is placed in,” he continued.

Who Pope Francis will choose, and when exactly that will be, is unclear.

Msgr. David Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius, said Bishop DiMarzio has made a lasting impression on the diocese over the past 15 years.

“He has made a tremendous impact on this diocese. He has a great administrative skill, but more than that, he has a tremendous pastoral skill. And he’s able to reach out language-wise, all sorts of things that he can do for God’s people here in Brooklyn and Queens,” Msgr. Cassato said.

A native of Newark, N.J., Bishop DiMarzio was the Bishop of Camden, N.J., before he was appointed the seventh Bishop of Brooklyn in 2003.

Bishop DiMarzio is a champion for immigrants’ rights, vocations and Catholic education.

But he said what he’s most proud of is strengthening relationships with Christ.

“I think, basically, trying to make the diocese one of evangelization, of trying to reach out to people who are not coming to Church, reach out to those who are not Catholic. That was my beginning sermon when I took over the diocese, and I continue that,” Bishop DiMarzio said.