by Melissa Enaje
A former Brooklyn auxiliary bishop who went on to become the eighth bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., died Sept. 27, on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. He was 93.
Bishop John J. Snyder, D.D., who led the Florida diocese for more than 20 years, was born Oct. 25, 1925, into an Irish Catholic family. He studied at two Queens Catholic schools, St. Bartholomew’s in Elmhurst and St. Andrew Avellino in Flushing. He also attended Cathedral Prep Seminary and College in Brooklyn and Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, L.I.
He was ordained by Archbishop Thomas Molloy at St. James Cathedral, Downtown Brooklyn, June 9, 1951. After ordination, he served for six years at St. Mel’s parish in Flushing. In October1957, he was named assistant secretary to Archbishop Bryan J. McEntegart and a year later, he became secretary, serving until the prelate’s death in 1968.
When Bishop Mugavero was named the Bishop of Brooklyn in July 1968, the then-Msgr. Snyder continued as secretary, a post he held until December 1972, when St. Paul VI named him auxiliary bishop and Bishop Mugavero appointed him vicar general. He was appointed as the eighth auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn on Dec. 13, 1972. He was ordained to the episcopacy on Feb. 2, 1973, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Sunset Park.
Six years after serving as an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Brooklyn, St.John Paul II appointed him the bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla. Bishop Snyder transferred to the Florida diocese Oct. 2, 1979 and was installed Dec. 5, 1979. According to The Tablet, Bishop Snyder was said to have left the Diocese of Brooklyn with a “heavy heart” after 28 years of service.
Bishop Snyder reached out to marginalized groups — the divorced, gays and lesbians, inmates, farmworkers, refugees, immigrants and the disabled. The disabled were particulary close to the late bishop’s heart. He established the Ministry for Persons with Disabilities that runs summer camps for disabled children and adults. He advocated for prison reform and spoke out against the death penalty. He was active in prison ministry, and after his retirement in 2000, he ministered to inmates on death row.
A funeral Mass was celebrated Oct. 2 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, presided by Archbishop Thomas Wenski. Burial followed at San Lorenzo Cemetery.
(Photos: Tablet File Photos)