PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Archbishop of New York’s simple message for the incoming Bishop of Brooklyn: Welcome back, it’s going to be great working with you.
In an exclusive interview with Currents News, Cardinal Timothy Dolan predicted his own working relationship with Bishop Robert Brennan will be positive, noting that he and outgoing Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio forged a successful partnership.
“Look, when you talk about New York City, I’m not the only bishop in New York City,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I’ve got three of the boroughs. But I said ‘there’s another extraordinarily important diocese in Brooklyn and Queens and we have to get Bishop DiMarzio in on this.’ I think he appreciated the fact that I wanted him next to me when we would do anything citywide.”
He and Bishop DiMarzio were friends for a long time, but his coming to New York solidified their close working relationship.
“I got to know him better, much better, when I came here as Archbishop of New York, in April of 2009, almost 13 years ago,” Cardinal Dolan said. “So my respect and admiration for him developed into a fraternity and a genuine affection and a real intense collaboration.”
Cardinal Dolan also had high praise for Bishop Brennan, recalling meetings they had related to the Diocese of Rockville Centre. “When we’re discussing a thorny topic, when I would ask his opinion, I would see him get very pensive and just slowly ponder before giving an answer. And that impresses me,” Cardinal Dolan said.
When Bishop-designate Brennan is installed as Bishop of Brooklyn next month, he will be taking the helm of a diocese that enjoys close ties to its neighbors.
The leaders of the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre have worked in close cooperation with each other over the years.
It’s a natural and necessary collaboration, Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York said in a recent interview anticipating Bishop Brennan’s arrival.
The two men have known each other for years, including the period when Bishop Brennan was serving the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
“I’ll look to him as a brother bishop,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I’ll look to him as a partner in the tremendous ministry of this ‘Capital of the World,’ [as] Pope John Paul II called New York.”
There are many matters on which all three dioceses must work together as they serve a combined population of about six million Catholics, extending from counties north of New York City to the tip of Long Island.
The three dioceses share a seminary — St. Joseph Seminary and College in Yonkers — thanks to a 2012 memorandum of understanding signed by Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, Bishop DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
The agreement called for St. Joseph’s to serve as the single program for graduate-level priestly formation in lower New York State.
The three have also worked together in support of the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns, which addresses issues of importance to the black community. “We work very well together,” said Father Alonzo Cox, director of the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
November is Black Catholic History Month, and all three dioceses are working together to plan a Mass to honor the achievements of black fraternal organizations. The Mass will take place in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
In addition, Brooklyn and Rockville Centre have in the past partnered to mark Black History Month every February.
Geographically, the Diocese of Brooklyn is located in the middle, between the Archdiocese of New York to the west and the Diocese of Rockville Centre to the east.
The three dioceses are vastly different in many ways. Brooklyn and Queens, which comprise the Diocese of Brooklyn, are largely urban landscapes, while the Diocese of Rockville Centre sits in a suburban setting. The Archdiocese, which takes in Staten Island, Manhattan, and the Bronx, stretches north to include parts of upstate New York.
Bishop Brennan, who will officially be installed as shepherd of the Diocese of Brooklyn during a Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Prospect Heights, on Nov. 30, has ties to all three dioceses.
He was born in the Bronx, which is part of the Archdiocese of New York. He is a graduate of St. John’s University in Queens, which is located within the Diocese of Brooklyn. He was ordained in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and served there for 30 years as a priest and an auxiliary bishop.
In a recent Catholic Faith Network interview with Cardinal Dolan and Bishop John Barres, the current Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Bishop Brennan noted that “the three of us care for three of the six largest dioceses in the United States, and we’re right next to each other. So we have to work together. It’s imperative.”
Cardinal Dolan followed up Bishop Brennan’s statement by saying: “The good thing is we not only have to work together, we want to work together.”
In that same interview, Bishop Barres said he too looked forward to partnering with Bishop Brennan, citing his “love for the Hispanic community, his fluent Spanish, it’s a providential choice to follow up on the great work, the spirit of evangelization, of Bishop DMarzio.”