by Antonina Zielinska
In the presence of his brother priests, his family, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, retired Bishop Thomas V. Daily and Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisnero, Father Joseph Grimaldi swore to uphold the office of the Episcopal Vicar for Brooklyn.
Holy Name Church, Park Slope, was filled March 3 during the installation Mass.
“Thank you, bishop, for your trust and confidence,” Father Grimaldi said at the end of the Mass. “Thank you for this great honor and privilege.”
During his homily, Bishop DiMarzio also expressed his gratitude for Father Grimaldi’s eagerness to embrace his new assignment. The bishop said his role, as bishop, would be nearly impossible without the help of the vicars, who are on the front lines of the parishes. Father Grimaldi will be the diocesan official to whom priests can turn for immediate attention for the concerns of their parishes.
Bishop DiMarzio said he has full confidence in Father Grimaldi’s abilities to minister to Brooklyn, a borough of 2.6 million people, rich in diversity. He said the vicar’s new territory has a “diversity of people, diversity of parishes, diversity of problems.”
“In truth and honesty I would not want to be anywhere else,” Father Grimaldi said. “I love Brooklyn.”
Msgr. Steven Ferrari, the former Vicar for Brooklyn, said the position will allow Father Grimaldi to come to know the borough in a whole new way. Visiting the different parishes and coming to better understand the people of Brooklyn, has been his favorite part of being the bishop’s representative, Msgr. Ferrari said.
Father Grimaldi said he plans to take his pastoral responsibilities to heart by continuing to minister directly to people. He said the direct contact with parishioners will help him keep grounded in the face of his new responsibilities.
As episcopal vicar, Father Grimaldi represents Bishop DiMarzio. He responsibilities will include: sitting on the assignment board for priests and deacons; administration; offering counsel to the clergy; attending cluster meetings; and continuing the efforts of the restructuring of parishes and schools.
“My biggest challenge will be to keep people on the same page, that they understand what we are doing, and that they understand that what we are doing strengthens the vibrancy of the Church,” he said of the reconstruction process. “Even though we have to diminish in numbers, our strength and devotion does not have to diminish.”
Father Grimaldi said he was heartened by the turnout at his installation ceremony.
“The presence of so many priests here is encouraging in the start of my ministry,” he said.
Among those who came out to show their support was the new vicar’s mother Caremela Grimaldi.
When he told her of his new position, she looked at him in utter shock and sadness, Father Grimaldi shared with the congregation. She thought he was switching to the Episcopal faith, where pastors are referred to as vicars.
However, when he explained to her what it all meant, she realized that her son was continuing to do what he has always done: ministering to people as a Catholic.
“He’s always happy and ready to help people,” she said.
She said he has been a blessing for her and is grateful that he continues to take the time to look after her, especially after her husband died.
Mrs. Grimaldi said her son has been close to the church from a young age. He attended St. Francis of Assisi parochial school, Astoria; Msgr. McClancy M.H.S., East Elmhurst, and St. John’s University, Jamaica.
After serving eight years at St. John the Evanglist church, Park Slope, he continued his studies at Catholic University, Washington D.C., where he earned a degree in canon law.
Father Grimaldi also served on the diocesan tribunal as judicial vicar.
In 2000, he was assigned as pastor of St. Mark’s parish, Sheepshead Bay, where he served until the beginning of this year.
Bishop DiMarzio said it was not a difficult decision to choose Father Grimaldi. He said his new vicar has the experience, expertise and enthusiasm needed for the job.
The bishop said that as difficult as it can be to fulfill the role of episcopal vicar, he is certain that Father Grimaldi will find it rewarding.
“When you can do something good and solve problems for others, there is a sense of fulfillment that comes with that,” he said.