Pope Francis has named Msgr. Edward B. Scharfenberger, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn who serves as the episcopal vicar for Queens, to be the Bishop of Albany, N.Y., replacing Bishop Howard J. Hubbard who had reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.
The pope also appointed Msgr. Andrzej Zglejszewski as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, L.I., where he is currently co-chancellor and director of the Office of Worship.
The appointments and Bishop Hubbard’s resignation were announced Feb. 11 in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S.
Bishop Hubbard was named to head the Albany Diocese in 1977, when he was 38. At that time, he was the youngest Catholic bishop in the nation.
“How grateful I am to His Holiness Pope Francis for the awesome privilege to serve as pastor of all the wonderful people in the Diocese of Albany,” said Bishop-designate Scharfenberger, who is 65 years old. “I am touched by the warm welcome of Bishop Hubbard who has served the Church in Albany with love and dedication for 37 years.
“My heart is full of gratitude to God for my loving family, especially my 93-year-old parents who were generous enough to welcome me, my two brothers and two sisters into the world. They taught us how to pray, to trust God and to know Jesus as our friend. Their continuous example shows us that the essence of love is sacrifice.”
The bishop-designate, who was born and raised in Ridgewood, said he was humbled to join the successors to the Apostles. He will be ordained to the episcopacy and installed as Bishop of Albany on Thursday, April 10 at 2 p.m.
“I am not worthy of this office and I hope that our priests, deacons, religious and lay people will pray for me often as, together, we continue along our journey of faith,” he said.
Introducing himself to the Albany Diocese at an 11 a.m. press conference on Tuesday, he said, “I promise to love and respect all of you by letting you be who you are and to bring out the best in you. Let’s do this for one another. I will spend every talent that God has given to me, and every ounce of energy, for the Church in Albany.
“I commend myself and my ministry to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of our diocese.”
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio praised the work and abilities of New York State’s newest ordinary.
“First and foremost, Monsignor Scharfenberger is a good priest,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “He is primarily concerned about people and is untiring in finding new ways to proclaim the message of redemption which is at the heart of the Gospel.”
Bishop DiMarzio continued, “Monsignor Scharfenberger has been a close collaborator and friend. He has vast pastoral and administrative experience. I offer my prayers for Monsignor Scharfenberger as he undertakes his Episcopal ministry.
“I also extend my congratulations to his mother and father, Elaine and Edward, who are both blessed to see this joyful day, for raising such a fine Christian gentleman, for giving the Diocese of Brooklyn a great priest and for giving the Church a holy bishop.”
Bishop-designate Scharfenberger is the eldest of five children – three boys and two girls. Baptized in St. Aloysius Church, Ridgewood, he attended Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School; Cathedral Prep, both Brooklyn and Elmhurst; Cathedral College, Brooklyn and Douglaston; and North American College, Rome. He was ordained July 2, 1973 by Bishop James Hickey at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.
He later did graduate studies in theology in Rome and law at Fordham University. He is both a canon and civil lawyer.
Following ordination, he served as a parochial vicar at St. Ephrem’s, Dyker Heights, 1973-76, before returning to Rome to study.
He was appointed to the Diocesan Tribunal in 1981, serving as Officialis and Judicial Vicar from 1993 to 2002.
In 2002, he was named pastor of St. Matthias parish, Ridgewood. In 2009, he took on the additional role of Vicar for Strategic Planning.
Last year, he was appointed Territorial Vicar, representing Bishop DiMarzio in all parishes in Queens.
Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, issued the following statement:
“It is with great joy that we welcome Pope Francis’ appointment of Msgr. Edward B. Scharfenberger as the 10th Bishop of Albany. We are excited to get to know our new local bishop and we look forward to his strong voice impacting the important pastoral and public policy issues facing the Church in the entire state of New York. We also heartily welcome Msgr. Andrzej Zglejszewski as a new Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
“Bishop-elect Scharfenberger’s spirituality, his legal training and his long history as a pastor in a multi-ethnic parish in the melting pot of Queens will serve him well in Albany. As a bishop whose cathedral is next door to the Executive Mansion and across the street from the Capitol complex, he will undoubtedly have a key role to play as a point person in public policy matters for the Conference.
“Today our hearts are filled with emotion and gratitude for the gift of Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, a true giant in the Church in New York State, who has served as Bishop of Albany since 1977 and for all that time, as chairman of our Public Policy Committee.
“I know I speak for the entire staff of the Conference in saying that our affection and esteem for Bishop Hubbard runs very deep. He has not only had an incalculable professional impact on our work here, but he has also been our spiritual shepherd as our local bishop. We wish Bishop Hubbard a long and healthy retirement and look forward to many more years of his wise counsel.”
The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s bishops in matters of public policy.