If We Can Install a Bishop, We Can Enthrall a Flock

On Nov. 30, the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph will host a liturgy that is unique, full of meaning, and worthy of attention. The installation of the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Robert J. Brennan, is the kind of transition that echoes Jesus Christ’s promises to his Church — to “make all things new” and to “never leave us orphans.”

Bishop Brennan will assume possession of his new see, which is no small calling for a shepherd, teacher, administrator, and instrument of the Holy Spirit. The Diocese of Brooklyn encompasses approximately 1.5 million Catholics packed into 180 square miles in two boroughs. It is the only completely urban diocese in the United States, regularly celebrating Mass in 33 languages and teaching children in 70 Catholic elementary schools and academies.

The people of Brooklyn and Queens are part of a world capital city that pulses with power and pride but suffers as the world suffers, searching desperately for love in family and community. Here comes everybody. Like all human beings, people here seek goodness, truth, beauty, and a deep relationship with the ultimate source of purpose, dignity, and meaning.

When someone new accepts the call to serve in this environment, to rely on God’s grace and the Church’s values while affirming that the Lord’s will shall be done, it’s a big event for that shepherd and for all his followers. Our beloved Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, whose retirement green-lighted this huge transition, might describe this plot twist as “putting out into the deep.”

Then again, he reminds us this is something written into everyone’s script.

Don’t forget another thing the Lord repeats endlessly: Be not afraid. This episcopal transition offers opportunities for conversation, kindness, and community, along with the most important blessing: true communion for us around the altar. For Bishop Brennan, born in the Bronx, educated in Queens, and nurtured in body and spirit on Long Island, this new beginning is a kind of homecoming. Welcome him with hospitality and humility.

With all these different factors at play, we are seeing another one of God’s great stories being lived out. The installation Mass is only one step, but we shouldn’t dismiss it as mere bells and whistles.

All Catholics and people of goodwill in the Diocese of Brooklyn can connect themselves to this story by watching the Mass on NET-TV, and “encountering” Bishop Brennan. Look, listen, and see how God is unfolding a new, authentic drama for our new bishop — and for any of us aspiring to a meaningful role on the Great Bright Way.

Pray for this shepherd.

Consider how to give him the love and support he will need, even as he prays to reciprocate. We can do more, making this a time of transition in our personal and parish lives.

If Bishop Brennan is called to serve in this complicated, challenging environment, we can ponder how to make things new in our lives, to serve our brothers and sisters as the best Church representatives we can be.

We may not all be at the same Mass, but we can be part of the same family around the same table, sharing stories — including the greatest story ever told.