PROSPECT HEIGHTS — After nearly a half century as a priest, and about eight years as an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Neil Tiedemann will enter retirement.
The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has accepted Bishop Tiedemann’s resignation, which he submitted when he turned 75 in March, as is required by Church law.
Bishop Tiedemann, a Brooklyn native, has been an auxiliary bishop in the diocese since 2016. In 2020, he was named Episcopal Vicar of Brooklyn. He currently serves as pastor of St. Matthias Parish in Ridgewood, Queens, and he serves as the director of the diocese’s Ministry to Caribbean and Black Catholics.
Bishop Tiedemann said in a statement that he’s been blessed to serve the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“Throughout my priesthood, I have been blessed and I am so grateful. I thank Bishops [Nicholas] DiMarzio and [Robert] Brennan for their kindness, support, and encouragement,” Bishop Tiedemann said.
“Of my 48 years as a priest I have spent 21 of them here in the Brooklyn diocese. I am thankful to my brother priests for their friendship, but most importantly, I have been blessed by the wonderful people of our diocese,” he continued. “They make you the priest that you are because they encourage and strengthen you, and teach you so much about life.”
Bishop Brennan thanked Bishop Tiedemann for his work in the diocese.
“I am grateful for Bishop Tiedemann’s many years of dedicated service here in Brooklyn and Queens,” he said in a statement. “Bishop Tiedemann has had extraordinary experience beyond the boundaries of our diocese and therefore was able to enrich us with his knowledge, passion, and dedication to the Church and all its people.”
Bishop Tiedemann was born on March 5, 1948, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He attended the Passionists’ Holy Cross High School Seminary in Dunkirk, New York; Holy Family Seminary in West Hartford, Connecticut; and LaSalle University in Philadelphia. As a seminarian, he was involved in outreach efforts with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.
Then in 1970, he entered the Passionists, officially the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ and professed perpetual vows in 1974. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1975.
His first assignment was as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica from 1975-1982, where he continued his outreach with CCBQ. He then went on to serve at largely Hispanic parishes in Union City, New Jersey, and Springfield, Massachusetts, and from there to ministry in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, between 1987 and 1994, where he helped found an AIDS hospice called Casa Pasionista.
After his stint in Honduras, Bishop Tiedemann returned to the Diocese of Brooklyn to serve at Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Red Hook between 1998 and 2005. A year later, he was elected to the provincial council of the Passionist Congregation.
Then, in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Tiedemann bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica, where he would spend the next eight years before he was again called home, this time by Pope Francis, who appointed him an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Bishop Tiedemann remembered most fondly his time as a parish priest. He said he has greatly enjoyed his time at St. Mathias, his current assignment, and also his time at the Blessed Virgin Mary, in part because that was the same parish where his grandparents married and his grandfather was baptized.
“Sometimes the running around things that you have to do, it seems to me, it’s the people that make you who you are, sharing their lives with you and their struggles and their joys and their anniversaries,” Bishop Tiedemann said in an interview with The Tablet. “It gives you a real reflection of who God is and where God is in our lives.”
He said he has already told Bishop Brennan he would help out with episcopal events like confirmation, and that he would be there to answer any questions of the diocese’s four new episcopal vicars in the new governance plan announced by Bishop Brennan on June 23, 2023.
Bishop Tiedemann said he welcomed the news of his retirement, and now will take some time for prayer and reflection to figure out what he’ll do next.
“The first thing I want to do is just take some time off for some prayer and reflection to see what would be best,” he told The Tablet.
“I just kind of want to sit down and get a little bit of time to prayerfully reflect on where I should go from now.”