Father Joseph LaMorte, a longtime pastor of parishes in Garnerville and Poughkeepsie, has been named vicar general and chancellor of the archdiocese, the Cardinal’s Office has announced. In both positions, Father LaMorte will succeed Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, who will serve as chief executive officer of the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, which expects to be “up and running” by year’s end, according to Cardinal Dolan (Cardinal’s column, Page 5).
Father LaMorte has been serving as pastor of St. Gregory Barbarigo parish in Garnerville since 2010. In an interview with CNY this week, Father LaMorte said that when Cardinal Dolan spoke to him about serving as vicar general and chancellor, he responded the same way he always has. “I said yes immediately.”
“It’s always worked out,” said Father LaMorte, 68. “The cardinal was very complimentary, laudatory. That encouraged me a lot.”
His new assignment is scheduled to begin full time in January. Father LaMorte said he expects to spend a couple of days a week at archdiocesan headquarters at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan beginning in the coming weeks.
Before being appointed pastor in Garnerville, Father LaMorte served for 21 years at Holy Trinity parish in Poughkeepsie, beginning as parochial vicar in 1989, before serving as administrator, 1991-1993, and continuing as pastor, 1993-2010. He also served on the Parish Mission Team, 1985-1989, and was parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament, Staten Island, 1981-1985. He was ordained in 1981 after studying for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie.
Father LaMorte has served as chairman of the archdiocesan Presbyteral Council for the past decade. He served for 40 years as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, at Maguire Air Force base in New Jersey and as wing chaplain at the 105th Airlift Wing in Newburgh. He retired in 2012 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Father LaMorte said that while he is sad to leave St. Gregory’s, he is “eager to get started in something new.” This is his first assignment in the archdiocesan Chancery, and he recognizes that he has “lots to learn.”
He complimented the work Msgr. Mustaciuolo has accomplished as vicar general and chancellor. “My first reaction was: How do you fill the shoes of (Msgr.) Gregory Mustaciuolo? He did a great job—for the priests and the parishes—and showed creativity.”
Msgr. Mustaciuolo, 60, has served as chancellor and moderator of the curia under Cardinal Dolan since 2009 and as vicar general since 2014. The cardinal, in his column, said he is confident that Msgr. Mustaciuolo will do “even more good for the Church in his new role than he has been able to do throughout his nearly 25 years of Chancery service.”
That service included tenures as priest secretary to two Archbishops of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, 1992-1995 and 1998-2000, and Cardinal Edward Egan, 2000-2009. He also served as a judge on the Metropolitan Tribunal and as an archdiocesan consultor.
Msgr. Mustaciuolo was ordained to the priesthood in 1990 after studying for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie. He was named a monsignor in 1999.
He holds a law degree from St. John’s University and served as an attorney for two years before entering the seminary. He also holds a degree in canon law.
The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, established with the proceeds of the sale of Fidelis Care to Centene, will serve those most in need throughout New York state. As the largest health care foundation in New York, it is expected to provide $150 million in annual grants for health and health care needs.
Msgr. Mustaciuolo, even before his appointment as acting CEO this summer, had worked for two years to direct the “Herculean project” of establishing the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. “While I had counted on the continued service of Msgr. Mustaciuolo here in the archdiocese for some time forward,” the cardinal wrote, “my principle is that I must always put the needs of the Church first.”
“I’m thankful for the confidence that the cardinal and the board have placed in me, and I look forward to helping establish Mother Cabrini Health Foundation as a vital resource, especially for the poor and those in need,” Msgr. Mustaciuolo told CNY.
Cardinal Dolan also said Msgr. Mustaciuolo will continue to guide two ongoing projects, namely the archdiocese’s response to the state Attorney General’s subpoena on clergy sex abuse, especially because of the leadership role of the IRCP (Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program); and real estate transactions involving parishes and the archdiocese in the wake of Making All Things New, the archdiocese’s pastoral planning initiative.