During a majestic, centuries-old liturgy that was streamlined by the Second Vatican Council, the Diocese of Brooklyn received two new auxiliary bishops on Wednesday, July 11.
Ordained to the fullness of the priesthood were Bishops Raymond F. Chappetto and Paul R. Sanchez.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was the principal consecrator, while Auxiliary Bishops Frank Caggiano and Octavio Cisneros were the main co-consecrators.
The ordination ceremony, which lasted almost three hours, was held at Our Lady of Angels Church, Bay Ridge, with 25 bishops in attendance, along with retired Cardinal Edward Egan, former Archbishop of New York.
In the line of procession were about 300 priests, Knights of Malta, Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, representatives of different faiths, seminarians, superiors of religious orders and deacons.
Attendants to Bishop Chappetto were Father Patrick Longalong, master of ceremonies; Msgr. Kevin B. Noone and Father Vincent Daly, assistant priests; Father John J. Costello, miter bearer; Father Michael L. Gelfant, crozier bearer; and Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, ring bearer.
Assisting Bishop Sanchez were Father John P. Cush, master of ceremonies; Msgr. George T. Deas and Father Joseph Cunningham, assistant priests; Father Joseph T. Holcomb, crozier bearer; Msgr. Otto L. Garcia, ring bearer; and Father James K. Cunningham, miter bearer.
Also in attendance were Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, who read the papal bulls naming the new bishops, and Archbishop Francis A. Chullikat, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
When Bishop DiMarzio addressed the new bishops, he talked about the pre-ordination retreat he preached for his new auxiliaries. He said that the new bishops were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit during the retreat.
“You have been chosen by the Lord and have been chosen among men,” Bishop DiMarzio said to the bishops.
Bishop DiMarzio then explained that the title of bishop is one of service, not of honor. The word bishop means “one who has vision from on high,” which Bishop DiMarzio said must be understood for the new bishops “to devote themselves wholeheartedly to receiving grace.”
To Bishop Chappetto, Bishop DiMarzio said he hopes the new bishop will continue in his line of multicultural service. Bishop Chappetto is of Italian descent, but he also has generously served the Indian and Filipino communities.
To Bishop Sanchez, Bishop DiMarzio told the new bishop that he has the ability to be a “unifier of people” based on his past of being involved with so many different immigrant and ethnic groups.
After also thanking the two new bishops for their service, Bishop DiMarzio concluded by acknowledging July 11, the day of the ordination, as the feast of St. Benedict.
“St. Benedict’s motto was ‘Pray and Work,’ and that is what I ask you to do: pray and work,” he said.
Following his words, Bishop DiMarzio led the new bishops in their promises of fidelity to the Church and intoned the chanting of the litany of the saints.
Bishop DiMarzio then placed his hands on the heads of each of the two candidates, symbolizing the passing on of the unbroken line of succession from the original Apostles of Jesus. The co-consecrators and other bishops repeated that action.
Following the prayer of ordination, the new bishops’ heads were anointed with holy oil. They were also presented the insignia of their office, ring, crozier and miter.
Among those who came to celebrate the occasion were representatives of almost every parish in Brooklyn and Queens.
“We are witnessing the ordination of two bishops, and they are the successors of the apostles,” said Lilian Flores, from Our Lady of Peace, Park Slope. “As part of the church, I feel so close to them, not only because of their leadership but also because of their guidance.”
Deacon Joe Denzler came with his wife Linda from Our Lady of Lourdes, Queens Village, to support the two newly elevated leaders.
“I think Bishop Chappetto and Bishop Sanchez are both holy men and will care for the people with all their minds and hearts,” the deacon said. “And because of who they are, they will have the support of the laity.”
“Excellent choices as far as I’m concerned,” said Marie Donnelly, from St. Fidelis, College Point, and the wife of Deacon Daniel Donnelly, who was vested at the ordination.
Virginia and Patrick Patten have been parishioners at Our Lady of the Snows, North Floral Park, for 26 years, so they have become very familiar with the work of Bishop Chappetto, their pastor since 1999.
“We’ve known him all the years he was pastor in our parish,” Virginia said. “If anyone should be receiving the fullness of the priesthood, it’s him… a man of God.”
“Bishop Chappetto is a wonderful man,” Patrick said. “We love him. It was great to work with him.”
“He’s like a little boy on Christmas. He’s so surprised, taken aback really, that he’d get this honor,” Sister Margaret Raibaldi, C.S.J., said in regard to Bishop Chappetto, whom she called a “firm, kind, loving man.”
While Bishop Chappetto be missed at Our Lady of the Snows, Sister Margaret says parishioners are proud that he’s been called to serve the larger church. “Filled with the Spirit of God, he’ll do great things,” she said.
Bishop Chappetto chose the motto “An Instrument of Your Peace” for his coat of arms, and Mrs. Patten said this motto describes him well.
“He is an instrument of God’s peace,” she said. “I thought that was perfect.”
The compliments for the two new bishops did not stop there. In addition to seeing the two men receive the well-deserved honor, the diocesan faithful also savored the chance to see its first episcopal ordination since 2006.
“I’m here to experience such a blessed day and blessed event,” said Brian Cosgrove, who works for the Parish Service Corporation as the risk manager for the diocese.
Cosgrove, who is a parishioner at Our Lady Help of Christians, Midwood, said he’s known both Bishop Chappetto and Bishop Sanchez for many years.
“It couldn’t happen to two better people, two holier people, and just two great men,” he said. “There are no two men more qualified to be bishops for this wonderful Diocese of Brooklyn. To lead the faithful, there are no two better men.”
Catherine Walsh, a lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at Our Lady of Angels, who was in the line of procession as a Lady of the Holy Sepulchre, echoed Cosgrove’s sentiments and said she was thrilled the ordination ceremony took place in her home parish.
“It means a great deal to the parish,” she said. “It’s an expression of faith and an appreciation of our physical parish. I’m very proud of this church. I look upon Our Lady of Angels as my second home.”
Joseph Cristiano, a parishioner at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr, Ozone Park, said he was honored to have sung with the Diocesan Vicarate Choir for such a sacred event.
“When I see the laying on of hands, I feel like I’m watching the Apostles,” he said. “It’s just a moving experience.”
Cristiano said further that he believes the new auxiliary bishops are very well prepared for their new assignments, and the ordinations come just at the right time.
“I realize that we have some of the auxiliary bishops who are retired,” he said. “So Bishop DiMarzio will need their help, and I’m sure they will be of great assistance.”
The two new bishops appear eager to assist the diocese in whatever manner possible as they continue to heed God’s call to serve.
Julie Morin, who attended with her husband Deacon Paul Morin from St. Dominic, Bensonhurst, said it was the camaraderie among the bishops, archbishops and cardinal present that touched her most. She said that during the ceremonial laying of hands on the newly elevated, “you could just feel the warmth.”
“As long as you have God on your side, you can’t lose,” Walsh said.
At the end of the Mass, the new bishops addressed the congregation and each took the opportunity to thank those who continue to support their ministries.
Bishop Chappetto thanked his family and the Sisters of St. Joseph for molding him into the man he is.
He also thanked priests, deacons and laity for their support. At the end of his remarks, he made one request to all those who were present.
“Please continue to sustain me with your prayers, and you can be assured of mine,” he said.
His family who were present for the ceremony said they were overjoyed to see Bishop Chappetto dressed for his new office and for being able to share such a joyous occasion with so many people that love him.
However, their perception of him did not change.
“His humility and simplicity, outshines all that,” said Sister Maryan Chappetto, I.H.M., the bishop’s sister-in-law.
Richard Chappetto, who was proud to declare, “my big brother is a bishop,” said he was especially touched by the humility and sincerity with which Bishop Chappetto spoke during the Mass. He said it moved him to hear all the people whom his brother felt grateful to and how important they were to him.
Among those whom Bishop Chappetto mentioned during his remarks were his brother bishops, with special mention of retired Auxiliary Bishops Rene Valero and Ignatius A. Catanello, who were unable to attend but watched the live broadcast via NET cable television.
And to his co-ordinand, “Bishop Paul, who has been my friend from Cathedral Prep, you have my love and respect.”
He also said he is grateful to Bishop DiMarzio for recommending him for this position and assured him that he would serve faithfully. “I am happy to help him in any way that I can,” he said.
During his remarks, Archbishop Viganò referred to Bishops Raymond Chappetto and Paul Sanchez as “native sons of this beloved diocese.” He thanked the two new auxiliaries for their humble service and said he is looking forward to seeing them continue their vocations.
“Bishops Chappetto and Sanchez, we are confident that you will humbly assist Bishop DiMarzio in many ways but especially in meeting the new challenges of evangelization,” Archbishop Viganò said.
The archbishop read aloud the papal bulls that Pope Benedict XVI himself wrote to each of the new bishops. The pope advised each new bishop to be of strong spirit and devote his skills and virtues to the church.
When it came time for Bishop Chappetto to speak, he talked about how when he was appointed Territorial Vicar of Queens in 1995, he had his choice to pick whichever rectory in the diocese he wanted.
“I chose to live in Bishop Paul’s rectory because I knew him well, and I felt so at ease with him like all of us do,” he said about his classmate at Brooklyn Cathedral Prep in the early 1960s. “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
In addition, Bishop Chappetto concluded with a heartfelt story about a retreat held at his parish, Our Lady of the Snows. He invited Sister Melannie Svoboda, the former Provincial of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio, to speak at the retreat.
“She mentioned that all bishops on the day of their ordination should be given not just a miter, a crosier and a ring when they are ordained,” Bishop Chappetto said. “But they should also be given an apron. Soon after the announcement of my nomination to become a bishop was made, a package arrived in the mail.”
Sure enough, Sister Melannie had sent Bishop Chappetto an apron, which symbolizes the call to wait upon others, to serve them and to help them.
When Bishop Sanchez spoke, he immediately thanked all the bishops and priests for being at the ceremony.
“Your presence brings joy to my heart and reminds me of our unity with the Holy Father and our neighboring dioceses in the United States and of our faith in Jesus Christ,” he said.
He then shared a story. Bishop Sanchez went to visit a now-deceased monsignor who was ill at the time.
“Bishop DiMarzio has sent me here,” Bishop Sanchez told the monsignor. “He wants to help you.”
The pastor looked up at Bishop Sanchez and said, “You tell the Bishop that if he wants to help me, he can leave me alone,” which drew much laughter from the audience.
The whole point is that Bishop Sanchez was thanking Bishop DiMarzio for being ever-present in the diocese during his eight years of encouraging and nourishing service.
“Thank you for not leaving us alone,” Bishop Sanchez told Bishop DiMarzio.
“I ask all of you to help enable Bishop Ray and myself to continue to support the ministries of our bishops, priests, deacons, religious men and women and all God’s people. Pray that Bishop Ray and I can carry out this ministry with encouragement and support for all who do God’s work.”
Cardinal Egan commended the Diocese of Brooklyn for having “the finest clergy in the United States of America,” including the two new auxiliary bishops.
“For many years, I’ve heard nothing but praise and admiration for Raymond Chappetto and Paul Sanchez,” he said. “Their choice from the Holy Father comes as no surprise to anyone. The Holy Father has once again proven that he’s infallible.”
Cardinal Egan concluded by relaying a message from Cardinal Dolan:
“I join him (Cardinal Dolan) and all of New York joins us in saying we love you, stay close to the Lord and continue to be what you are: examples to all of us.”