My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
To be called to be a successor of the Apostles is a great honor, but also a great responsibility. During the week of July 5, the two Bishops-elect, James Massa and Witold Mroziewski, and I spent a week on retreat at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie.
This provided us with a time to reflect on the episcopal ministry by studying the lives of the Apostles. We know something about all of the Apostles. Obviously, we know more about Peter and Paul, who was an Apostle born out of time. However, the 12 do present a variety of persons who were called by Christ, Himself, to establish the primitive Church. They are all intercessors for the continued life of the Church.
During our conferences and discussions, we tried to understand better what the apostolic succession is about and how all of us are called to follow Christ as ministers of the Gospel.
Each of our two new Auxiliary Bishops brings special gifts to the office to which they have been called. Bishop Massa has spent most of his priestly life in the teaching ministry. He holds a Doctorate in Systematic Theology from Fordham University. He has taught in several seminaries and was mentored in his doctoral dissertation by the late Jesuit Avery Cardinal Dulles. Most recently, Bishop Massa was the prime coordinator for the merger of the Brooklyn diocesan seminary system with the Archdiocese of New York, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He provided the administrative and insightful suggestions so that our seminary system could meet in the future and continue to form and educate good priests.
Bishop Witold Mroziewski also has given many years of his relatively young life to the service of the Diocese of Brooklyn. As an associate pastor, and now in his second pastorate, he has given special attention to the Polish-speaking people of Brooklyn and Queens. The Diocese of Brooklyn boasts over 90,000 Polish-born members, not counting their children. Our Polish community is vibrant, having a Polish Mass celebrated in over 22 parishes in the Diocese each Sunday. The Holy See recognized not only the need for a Polish-speaking Auxiliary Bishop, but also one who is well educated. Having earned his Doctorate in Canon Law, Bishop Mroziewski has assisted in the Diocesan Tribunal.
It is never easy to accept the responsibility of the Episcopacy. Truly, it is an exercise of putting out into the deep. Following the words of Christ, Himself, who told the Apostles to go down to the shore, to leave the security of the shallow water and put out into the deep and to continue lowering their nets and try to haul in a catch, while at the same time not being afraid to start all over again.
Join me in praying for our new Auxiliary Bishops, James Massa and Witold Mroziewski, as they join those who already labor in our Diocese here in Brooklyn and Queens to accommodate your spiritual needs through their ministry of preaching, administering of the sacraments and living their lives for others.