The Gradual Reopening For Public Worship

On Ascension Thursday, May 21, 2020, at the Church of Our Saviour in Manhattan, His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York held a press conference to announce a multi-step plan for the re-opening of parishes in his archdiocese for public worship.

Attending the press conference, and also presenting, was our Bishop, the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio. Although we are separate dioceses and have our own multifaceted program for the reopening of our parish churches for public worship, it was good that the two bishops of New York City were together in a sign of unity and a sign of cooperation between the two dioceses.

The Archdiocese of New York is larger, encompassing other counties besides the three boroughs of New York City for which they pastorally care (Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx.) The Archdiocese of New York was established in 1808 as the Diocese of New York out of the Archdiocese of Baltimore (which encompassed at that time all of the 13 Colonies).

In the year 1850, the Diocese of New York was established as an Archdiocese when the territory was taken away from the Diocese of New York to create what is now the Diocese of Albany and the Diocese of Buffalo. It was on July 29, 1853, that the Holy See carved more territory out of the gigantic Archdiocese of New York, establishing the Diocese of Newark in New Jersey (which would become an archdiocese itself in 1937) and the Diocese of Brooklyn.

At that time, the Diocese of Brooklyn was composed of four counties — Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk. In 1957, the Diocese of Brooklyn was split by the Holy See, creating the Diocese of Rockville Centre out of Nassau and Suffolk counties. Since 1957, the Diocese of Brooklyn has served the people of God in Brooklyn and Queens.

We in the Diocese of Brooklyn are very much our own people and we are proud of it! We are the only diocese in the United States of America which is entirely urban. We have over 1.5 million Catholics to serve in Brooklyn and Queens. We are blessed with 188 parishes and 99 schools. We have two Cathedrals — the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint James (founded in 1823, the first Roman Catholic Church on Long Island) as well as the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph (designated as Co-Cathedral in 2013 by Pope Benedict XVI). In addition to Bishop DiMarzio, we have six active auxiliary bishops and one very active retired auxiliary bishop.

Although we share our city with the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn is very much our own. It was very good to know that our Bishop and his task force for reopening churches in our dioceses will be in con-tact with the Archdiocese of New York. Our people, who live in Brooklyn and Queens, work in Manhattan, which is only a few subway stops away. We have a remarkable spirit of collaboration be-tween our Bishops in New York City, not only in priestly formation, but in so many other ways.

Although we will have our own unique plans moving forward in our Diocese, it was good to see Bishop DiMarzio and Cardinal Dolan, the chief shepherds of New York City, together. It was a sign of hope. Let’s pray that we in all five boroughs can be back to Church ourselves very soon.

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