In his first talk to his flock after being installed as the 10th Bishop of Albany, N.Y., Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger asked the people of his diocese “to bring the best out of me.” In return, he said, he would bring the best out of them.
With those words, the 65-year-old native of the Brooklyn Diocese began his episcopacy in the upstate See. He is the first bishop to be ordained there since 1977 when the recently-retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard was named bishop there.
The bishop’s ordination and installation took place April 10 before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 1,300 people in Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Downtown Albany.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was the ordaining bishop. Co-consecrators included Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Bishop Hubbard.
“The joy that we feel in our hearts today, as Cardinal Dolan said so well, is not about me, it’s not about being a bishop, it’s not any one of us, it’s about our Lord, Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Scharfenberger. “Who gives us peace and happiness and joy and mercy and forgiveness and causes each and every one of us to bring that to the world.”
Joining the new prelate in the sanctuary were 34 other bishops and 200 priests, many of whom were from the Brooklyn Diocese who had come to wish their brother-priest well.
Also present were Bishop Scharfenberger’s parents, 94-year-old Edward and 93-year-old Elaine, who live in Warwick, N.Y., his two brothers and two sisters and their families.
In attendance was Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., who read the letter of appointment from Pope Francis.
During the two-and-a-half hour ceremony, the papal letter was formally shown to the Diocesan Curia and to the people. Bishop Scharfenberger then promised to carry out his responsibilities as bishop, prior to the laying on of hands by Cardinal Dolan and the other bishops and the prayers of ordination.
The litany of the saints was chanted while the new bishop lay prostrate before the altar in the sanctuary.
Cardinal Dolan also anointed the head of the newest member of the episcopacy with the holy oil of chrism.
A Book of the Gospels was held above the head of Bishop Scharfenberger as prayers invoked the power of the Holy Spirit upon the ordinand.
Miter, Crozier and Ring
Bishop Scharfenberger was presented with his miter, crozier and ring, symbols of the episcopal office. The crozier, or bishop’s staff, held special meaning because it once belonged to the late Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, who died as a result of a tragic automobile accident last year.
The three items had been blessed the evening before by Bishop Hubbard at a vespers service conducted at St. Pius X Church, Loudonville, N.Y., where the new bishop will reside for the next month. At that prayer service, Bishop Hubbard also explained the new bishop’s coat of arms that contained symbols of the Albany Diocese as well personal attributes.
Following the ordination ceremony, a reception was held at The Egg, the convention center at the Empire State Plaza.
On the evening prior, Bishop Scharfenberger was the guest of honor at a reception and dinner at Siena College.
The Albany Diocese stretches across 14 counties and is home to 330,000 Catholics. It has 271 priests and 127 parishes.
The ordination ceremony was shown live in Albany. It also was broadcast live in New York City by NET-TV.
Bishop Scharfenberger, who was ordained a priest on July 2, 1973 in Rome by Bishop James Hickey, most recently served as episcopal vicar for Queens. Prior to that, he was vicar for strategic planning; pastor of St. Matthias parish, Ridgewood; and judicial vicar at the Diocesan Tribunal.
He is a native of Ridgewood and attended Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School, Ridgewood; Cathedral Prep, Brooklyn and Elmhurst; Cathedral College, Douglaston; and the North American College in Rome.