Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen took the final two minutes of his first speech as a bishop to recognize the nearly 400 teenagers dressed in maroon and gold at his ordination Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dec. 10.
“You may have noticed a rather large amount of young men in maroon and gold,” said Bishop Whalen, drawing a large roar from Msgr. Farrell High School students who came from Staten Island.
“Thank you to the men of Farrell, those of my time when I was a student, those whom I taught 30 years ago and in a very special way to you brothers, the men of the past nine years. Thank you for the way in which we appreciate the gifts that God has given each one of us, and as we’ve learned that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, we’re called to bring those to others.”
The new bishop was principal of Msgr. Farrell from 2010 until his appointment by Cardinal Dolan as vicar for clergy in January.
Bishop Whalen issued a homework assignment to the congregation, asking each person to choose one of the Msgr. Farrell students and say a Hail Mary for that student during a Marian week with feast days for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dec. 8, Our Lady of Loreto, Dec. 10, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12.
“Every day say one Hail Mary for that Farrell man who you picked out of the crowd,” Bishop Whalen said. “We have a great tradition of vocations at Farrell, men who have answered the call, many of whom are in far off lands, many of whom are serving in our own diocese.
“If each of you say one Hail Mary during this Marian week, then they’ll take the earbuds out of their ears and they’ll hear God’s call and many more of us Farrell brothers will be serving God’s people as priests. Vir Fidelis (Faithful Men, the school motto). Thank you.”
Bishop Whalen also acknowledged the Msgr. Farrell students as he processed throughout the cathedral, holding the apostolic letter from Pope Francis appointing him auxiliary bishop higher as he passed the students. Later in the Mass, Bishop Whalen walked with his miter and crosier as he blessed all those present and slapped hands with some students.
Nicholas Crescitelli was one of the Msgr. Farrell students at the ordination.
“I think monsignor has a special story with every kid in the school, but most important, Monsignor knows every kid’s name no matter who you are. It really hits you very well,” the senior told CNY before the Mass.
“Coming up to you in the hallway and knowing your name, it really pushes you to do better in school, be a better kid and make you want to be like him.”
Giovanni Pistilli remembered Bishop Whalen as his principal and religion teacher at Msgr. Farrell.
“That man has made a lasting impression on my life in the short time he was in it,” the junior said. “I’m very close to him. He helped out through a lot of tough times in my life, especially in my freshman year. He’s been a big part of Farrell. He embodies what Vir Fidelis is and should be, and he’s taught each and every one of us how to live that life.
“He’s got this charisma about him that makes you want to learn more about whatever subject he’s teaching and about his life stories and his experiences at Farrell.”
Both students were not surprised when the announcement came Oct. 10 that Bishop Whalen was being ordained an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese.
“He deserves it. He seems like the type of guy who honestly can be the pope one day,” Pistilli said.