WINDSOR TERRACE — Three longtime priests were officially incardinated into the Diocese of Brooklyn on Friday, June 16, with the signing of paperwork and making a declaration.
Bishop Robert Brennan celebrated a Mass in the chapel of the chancery on Prospect Park West to welcome them.
The priests are Fathers Paul Anel, Alexandre Morard, and Charles Gilley. This trio has already notched significant service in the diocese.
Father Gilley is director of guidance and counseling at St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria.
Incardinated priests are clergy who were originally ordained in other dioceses — or in Father Gilley’s case, a religious order — but were subsequently called to assignments in another diocese.
Then, under incardination, the bishop of their original diocese releases them from his jurisdiction and the bishop of the receiving diocese agrees to accept them.
The diocese currently has 72 active and retired incardinated priests from other dioceses and religious orders — out of 263 diocesan priests — doing service in various ministries, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn.
After the Mass, the priests signed paperwork and recited a pledge of faithfulness. At that point, they officially became priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The Mass coincided with the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“The feast of the Sacred Heart is a day of particular prayer for the sanctification of priests,” Bishop Brennan said. “We thought it was an appropriate day to welcome our new priests.
“I mentioned at the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday that we were close to it, and we wanted to get everything done. It just seemed that things came together in these last couple of weeks.”
The process of incardination can be lengthy, involving lots of paperwork — sometimes between dioceses in different countries.
Such was the case with Father Anel, who is from France, and Father Morard, a native of Switzerland.
Father Anel’s hometown is Limoges in south-central France. He was ordained in 2010 at Toulon in the far south of the country.
He noted, however, that his entire ministry has been in Brooklyn, where he first came as a transitional deacon in 2008.
After ordination in 2010, he returned to Brooklyn as a priest and served at St. Edward’s Parish in Fort Greene (now closed), Divine Mercy Parish in Williamsburg, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in downtown Brooklyn.
With Father Morard, whose first language is French, he developed a French Mass at St. Paul-St. Agnes, which has grown from about a dozen congregants to around 70.
Father Anel said he was happy to be incardinated.
“The parish is my main ministry,” he said. “My heart is here. My mission is here. All my friends are here.”
Father Morard served at Divine Mercy with Father Anel. Both were asked by Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio (now retired) to assist with the French Mass at St. Paul-St. Agnes. They subsequently found themselves on staff there.
Father Morard, ordained in 2012, was a missionary. He, like Father Anel, works with Con-solatio, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization.
Rooted in the Catholic faith, Con-solatio “ministers to people from every walk of life, especially those most socially isolated, in some of the world’s most troubled areas,” according to its website.
Father Morard said he has a background in construction, so he enjoys working with tools to repair or refurbish the churches, and beekeeping. His main passion, however, is visiting people who are homebound or in nursing homes.
“Visiting the families, I think, is one of the most important missions and it’s what I really enjoy most,” he said.
Father Gilley, a native of Brooklyn, was not ordained into a diocese, but a religious order — the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits.
He has since compiled 27 years in secondary education, with 21 of those years at St. John’s Prep.
“I wasn’t crazy about high school when I was going through it,” he said. “But I did meet a couple of teachers who I really admired. And so I wanted to be able to make a difference, not only in teaching, but in the lives of the students.”
Father Gilley chose the Jesuits because he appreciated their educational institutions, from high schools to colleges and universities.
He started out teaching history but has spent most of his career as a guidance counselor.
Father Gilley took a leave of absence from the Jesuits, but subsequently joined the staff at St. John’s Prep.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his staff continued work via phone and video conferencing. During that time he found himself counseling students, and their parents, who grieved the deaths of loved ones to the disease.
Incardination, he said, brings him peace of mind. Like his fellow priests, he knows where he’ll be spending his remaining years of priestly ministry.
“I actually feel wonderful,” he said. “It has been a little bit of a journey, trying to figure out where to go from the Jesuits, whether to go into a religious institution, or whether to come to the diocese.
“So I feel like I’m at peace, and I’m settled.”