Put Out into the Deep

My Plans in Retirement

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

On Sunday, June 16, I will celebrate my 75th Birthday. As Canon Law dictates, I must submit my resignation as Bishop of Brooklyn to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. The Holy Father usually does not immediately accept such a resignation, however, as it generally is the custom to do so when a successor is named. Normally, in today’s world that comes before the end of the 75th year.

Interestingly, it is only recently since the Pontificate of Pope John XXIII that Bishops are required to retire even before the change of Canon Law of 1983. I remember the words of Archbishop Thomas A. Boland who ordained me a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark when it came time for him to submit his resignation in the early 1970s. He said that it was like having the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. He was not very happy at that time.

On a more humorous level, as a seminarian, I visited the hometown of my paternal grandfather in Italy where Bishop Antonio Teutonico lived. He was 97 years of age and retired as Bishop of Aversa. With a smile on his lips, he calmly said, “Pope John may have forced me to retire, but he died!” Bishop Teutonico lived to be 103, the oldest bishop in the world.

I feel no constraint regarding the issue of retirement. It is a well-known fact, and everyone who retires must prepare themselves for that phase of life, which gives them another opportunity to exercise their talents in a different way.

Once retired, most probably I will be moving to the rectory of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on Pacific Street, where I would reside. The Congregation of Bishops has issued and re-issued guidelines for the conduct of retired bishops, or bishops emeritus as they are called. In short, the guidelines basically say that a bishop emeritus should be seen, but not heard from. In no way should he interfere in the governance of the diocese. He should offer his services to the new bishop of the diocese and assist in any way that the new Ordinary requires.

My predecessor, Bishop Thomas V. Daily, lived those precepts to the letter. Unfortunately, his health declined and Bishop Daily was not able to assist for many years after his retirement, although he lived to almost 90 years of age. I will follow in his good example in assisting and not interfering.

It is my intention to return to the passion of my apostolic work, which is the migration issue. Today, more than ever, we need to understand the facts and research regarding what this issue truly is and promote advocacy to improve the lot of our immigrants and refugees who are prevented from coming into our country. Currently, I serve as chairman of the board for the Center for Migration Studies based in Manhattan and will give them more of my time to develop their capacity for research.

As I look back over the past 15 and a half years, I recognize not only the great challenges but also the great consolation it has been to be the Bishop in Brooklyn and Queens. The cultural diversity of our two boroughs is certainly a characteristic of what the Diocese of Brooklyn is all about as well as the tremendous development in Brooklyn and Queens since that time. These extraordinary changes have brought about a real change of environment with its challenges and difficulties for some.

As I look forward to the future, it will give me the opportunity to reflect on my past contributions and shortcomings as I enter this new phase of life. Clearly, it is the last quarter. We must all recognize that time is God’s greatest gift to us, and we cannot afford to waste any of His gift. We must use God’s time given to us to the best advantage, especially for the evangelization of the world that needs the presence of Christ so much.

I look forward to celebrating my birthday with the priests of the Diocese. It will be my pleasure to commemorate this milestone with my priests, as the bond between bishop and priest is one that always needs strengthening.

May I ask your prayers for me, as I put out into the deep of this new phase of my life in the future, asking that I might continue my Episcopal ministry in a different way. But one that will be fruitful and useful, not only to the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn, but also to the greater Church which each bishop serves.

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17 thoughts on “My Plans in Retirement

  1. Thank You, Bishop DiMarzio for sharing such a Well-Written Retirement Letter.
    Just like before retirement, you will be useful to the Diocese and the Greater Church
    on an assistance level.

  2. Dear Bishop DiMarzio, Hello, my name is Margaret Curry and I would like to congratulate you on your birthday and retirement. You were my parish priest at St Nick’s in Jersey City. My mother, Louise Curry, was very active in the parish. I was reacquainted with your ministry through Fr. William Smith who has been a patient at my dental office in Queens. He has spoken very highly of you and I was so happy to hear about someone that I knew making it to such an important position in the Church. Wishing you all the best in your next chapter.

  3. What an excellent piece. Father Regis, OSB, would be very proud of Your writing skills. Hope your next adventure includes continued written communication with your friends, who do not see you face to face very often.
    With my affection, admiration and respect,

  4. God bless you our Bishop. I personally thank and admire you for your humility. Thank you for sharing your faith online with many of us living far away geographically, yet spiritually closer. God reward you for us now but most especially in the glorious future.

  5. God’s blessings for you as you prepare to enter this new phase of life. Enjoy many years of retirement. Happy 75th birthday!!

    Conrad & Joan Pfeifer

  6. Dear Bishop Di Marzio
    Happy Birthday! And my your retirement, whenever it comes, be a blessing for you filled with many unexpected surprises.
    Dr. Tom O’Brien
    Deacon – Diocese of Camden

  7. Truly a well deserved birthday but certainly not the end…for we hope you can be with us as our Ordinary for several more years, God willing. Bishop Nicholas, you have not merely served well, but have responded to the many challenges of our Church with distinction and clarity. It has been good to know you and serve you in various ways on boards in our Diocese. Blessings!

  8. Welcome to retirement
    At least your retirement was not brought on by a stroke as mine was. In some ways it a blessing.
    Remember the days when we were in the Sem and we were friends. They were good with Joe P and Gerry Bajek. All the best and God Bless.

  9. Reverend Bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, I don’t like the fact bishops are forced to retire especially if and when they are still lucid and able to carry out they’re ministry. We have been truly blessed to have you for our shepherd for the last 15 years. A father never stops being a father. Thank you for being a father to us all these years, the Church in Brooklyn and Queens is truly a better place because of you, your humility, your tenderness, your patience. I will continue to keep you in my prayers and commend you to our Lady. I hope this evening of your life will be filled with peace and joy and your work for immigrants will bear much fruit for their sake and God’s glory.

  10. Congratulations well deserved…Wishing you happy, healthy times as you move forward. How lucky the world is by all your goodness, kindness & compassion. Nana & your Newark friends are forever proud of you. Many blessings & good days ahead for you!

  11. Happy Retirement, your Excellency! Please consider Father Joey from Saint Sebastian’s Parish as your successor. He is very compassionate and we would welcome the diversity!

    God Bless You Always!

  12. most reverend , Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio , recently you ordain 19 Deacons. One of them is my husband Gilberto Laboy. I love your humility, I was in the Chrism mass this year and believe me those words you said asking for forgiveness if you ever did or say something wrong really touch me , is because of your humility that we are trying to be better servers to the community and to tour Pastors Thank you for teaching us the beauty to serve. God bless you. Luz Laboy.

  13. Your Excellency… I know that you began the Cause for Canonization of Monsignor Bernard J. Quinn, founder of St. Peter Claver and Saint Benedict the Moor churches as well as the Little Flower Home. At this time of crisis, I ask you to bring forward the memory of Monsignor Quinn in your addresses to the people and parishes. Thank you for advancing his cause in the church an that you do for minorities. Happy birthday and happy retirement! Antoinette Campanella Cleary.

    I am a former Bcrooklynite, now living in Richmond, Virginia. I am in a virtual Morning Prayer group with Deacon Manuel Quintana and the parishioners of St
    Joseph Co-Cathedral.