‘I Thank God For These Past 25 Years’
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Frank DiMarzio always knew his big brother Nicholas was going to become a priest, even when they were kids growing up in New Jersey.
“At 10 years old, he had built an altar under the pantry in our kitchen,” Frank recalled.
Nicholas DiMarzio did indeed become a priest. He was ordained on May 30, 1970, and elevated to the rank of auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Newark by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 31, 1996. He was installed as Bishop of Camden on July 22, 1999, and as Bishop of Brooklyn on Oct. 3, 2003.
Eighteen years later, on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, Frank DiMarzio was one of the hundreds of people who came to the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Prospect Heights, to see Bishop DiMarzio celebrate Mass to mark the 25th anniversary of his episcopacy.
The Mass was attended by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, several bishops, priests, laypersons from parishes in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and family and friends.
One of the highlights of the Mass took place when the greatnieces and greatnephews presented the gifts to Bishop DiMarzio as the Liturgy of the Eucharist began.
The Mass gave Bishop DiMarzio a chance to reflect on his quarter-century as a bishop.
“I think I learned a lot more in 25 years. And what I thought it would be and what it is, is something else,” he said. “But it’s even greater than what you expect.”
In his homily, he talked about the role of a bishop, likening it to a juggler, referring to how he worked to encourage priestly vocations, support Catholic education, and make immigrants feel welcome.
“A bishop must be the center of unity in the diocese,” he said.
Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto announced that a replica of the sculpture “Angels Unawares,” which depicts migrants fleeing persecution, as well as images of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, would be installed in front of the Co-Cathedral in tribute to Bishop DiMarzio’s lifelong work on behalf of immigrants — and in recognition of the diocese’s reputation as the “Diocese of Immigrants.”
The original sculpture was displayed in St. Peter’s Square in 2019 in honor of the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. In 2020, the Diocese of Brooklyn welcomed a replica displayed at Grand Army Plaza during the Christmas season.
Cardinal Dolan called Bishop DiMarzio an inspiration to priests, saying, “I always tell our future priests, ‘Don’t be in your room in front of the computer. Go out on the streets. That’s where your people are.’ And that’s where he was. You might not see him in the library, but you’ll see him at a parish festival eating a hot dog.”
Frank DiMarzio, who is 16 months younger than his brother, remembered their childhood with fondness.
“We would get into big battles like little kids do. But he was always there for me,” he told The Tablet before Mass.
Bishop DiMarzio’s common touch appeals to everyday Catholics, said Shaniqua Wilson, a parishioner of St. Bonaventure-St. Benedict the Moor Parish, Jamaica.
“He will be retiring,” she said, “but he’ll still be here in residence with us, and we wanted to let them know that we care and that we love him.”
Bishop DiMarzio will retire on Nov. 30 when Bishop Robert Brennan of Columbus, Ohio, is installed as the Eighth Bishop of Brooklyn.