The appointment of Bishop Robert J. Brennan as the 12th Bishop of Brooklyn is good news indeed for the Catholics he’ll serve in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
As his neighbors across the East River, we in the archdiocese extend a hearty welcome as we look forward to working with him in carrying out the mission of the Church in New York City’s five boroughs and throughout the metro area.
We think he’ll fit in fine.
He was born in the Bronx, after all, and grew up in the Rockville Centre Diocese where he was ordained a priest in 1989 and auxiliary bishop in 2012. He served three Rockville Centre bishops in high-level posts including vicar general until his 2019 appointment as Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus in Ohio.
We also want to offer our sincere thanks and best wishes to Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, 77, as he retires after serving for 18 years.
Bishop Brennan, 59, will be installed to succeed Bishop DiMarzio Nov. 30.
In the Brooklyn Diocese, he’ll serve a densely populated urban area with 1.5 million Catholics in the 177 parishes of Brooklyn and Queens. It has one of the most diverse populations in the state, with large African-American communities, sizable immigrant and migrant populations from all over the world, many undocumented residents, and regularly scheduled Masses offered in 33 languages.
As one who’s known for a pastoral approach to ministry, we’re confident Bishop Brennan will have no trouble building upon the foundation of advocacy and outreach his predecessor established to immigrants and refugees in the last 18 years.
Cardinal Dolan, welcoming Bishop Brennan’s return to New York, said he had gotten to know him over the years as one “who he has shown himself to be not only a capable administrator, but also a true pastor, with a deep love of God’s people.”
The bishop can put those qualities to good use in his new diocese, which has undergone substantial demographic changes in the last decade or so. That’s especially true of large sections of Brooklyn, which have transitioned from working-class ethnic neighborhoods to trendy enclaves of upper middle-income professionals and post-college young people.
Fortunately, the diocese has built a sophisticated and extensive communications system that will serve him well in reaching people “where they are,” including young people on social media.
Bishop Brennan will also face the challenges that all New York bishops are dealing with, as he seeks to resolve the hundreds of lawsuits stemming from the state’s Child Victims Act while also ministering to survivors of clergy sexual abuse and at the same time preserving the ministries of the Church.
Yes, it’s a full plate, and we know that Bishop Brennan is sad to leave the “amazing people” of the Columbus Diocese, where he recently initiated a two-year diocesan-wide evangelization and planning project “Real Presence, Real Future.”
But we’re sure he’ll be glad to get back home to a place where his New York accent is the way everyone talks.
“I’m ready and eager to embrace the people of Brooklyn and Queens as their pastor,” he said.
We’re happy to have him as our partner in ministering to the people of the City of New York.