Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio Retires; Bishop Brennan, Former Auxiliary of Rockville Centre, Named Successor

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Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn and named Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Columbus, Ohio, to succeed him.

Bishop DiMarzio, who has been Brooklyn’s bishop since 2003, turned 77 in June. When he turned 75, he turned in his resignation to the pope as required by canon law.

Bishop Brennan, 59, is a native New Yorker who has headed the Columbus Diocese since 2019. He was born in the Bronx and raised in Lindenhurst, Long Island, in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, where he was an auxiliary bishop from 2012 until his appointment to Columbus.

The changes were announced Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

A Mass of installation for Bishop Brennan will be celebrated Nov. 30 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn.

“On behalf of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I welcome Bishop Brennan, whom I have known for many years, with confidence in his ability to lead our Catholic community and build upon the pastoral achievements we have made. It has truly been an honor to serve as bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn for 18 years,” Bishop DiMarzio said in a statement.

“This is a historic moment for the Diocese of Brooklyn which is a very active diocese, and Bishop Brennan’s energy makes him a perfect choice,” he said. “I ask for God’s blessings on this transition so that the work of God, in service to His people, can effectively continue for the more than 1.2 million Catholics throughout Brooklyn and Queens.”

Bishop Brennan said he has come to know “amazing people” in the Columbus Diocese “and there is a tremendous sadness in leaving them behind.”

“As I prepare for a return to New York, I am ready and eager to embrace the people of Brooklyn and Queens as their pastor,” he said in a statement. “Knowing we are loved by Jesus, we will strive to show others His face, bearing the joy of the Gospel and the splendor of truth.”

“In the end,” he added, “that’s what it is all about—in Columbus, Brooklyn and around the world.”

Cardinal Dolan said in a statement, “It is a joy to ‘welcome home’ Bishop Robert Brennan, as he returns to the Province of New York to serve as the eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn. During my over 12 years as Archbishop of New York, I have come to know him as a fine priest and bishop, a warm individual, and a good friend. As Bishop of Columbus, and before that as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, he has shown himself to be not only a capable administrator, but also a true pastor, with a deep love of God’s people.

“A sincere and prayerful word of gratitude to Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, for his 18 years as Bishop of Brooklyn, guiding that diocese with zeal and dedication. He has been a trusted and valued collaborator, as we worked together on issues affecting the Church, particularly here in the City of New York which our two dioceses share. It is good to know that he will continue to be a source of wisdom and insight for both Bishop Brennan and me.”

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Brennan as the 12th bishop of Columbus Jan. 31, 2019, and he was installed March 29, 2019.

Among the highlights of Bishop Brennan’s time in Columbus has been the institution of the diocesan-wide “Real Presence, Real Future” evangelization and planning initiative, a two-year process involving clergy, lay ecclesial ministers, parish volunteers, and the faithful.

He traveled regularly to meet and engage people in the diocese’s 23 counties. Bishop Brennan has served on the boards of the Catholic Foundation, Mother Angeline McCrory Manor and Cristo Rey Columbus Catholic High School.

He also has been a board member and the vice chancellor of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus.

Robert John Brennan was born to Robert and Patricia Brennan in the Bronx. He is the oldest of five children. He was raised in Lindenhurst. He attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Lindenhurst and St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, Long Island.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from St. John’s University in Queens.

The future bishop completed his studies for the priesthood at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre May 27, 1989, by the late Bishop John R. McGann.

His first parish assignment was at St. Patrick parish in Smithtown. In 1994, he was appointed secretary to the bishop and served three Rockville Centre bishops in that capacity.

As secretary, he lived at St. Agnes Cathedral and served at the cathedral parish. During that time he came to know the parish’s Latino community and began to study Spanish.

Since those years, a particular focus of his episcopal ministry has been Latino Catholics. He has said their vibrancy of faith has been a source of inspiration to him.

He also was vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Rockville Centre Diocese and was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the diocese July 25, 2012.

On the national level, Bishop Brennan has served as a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Administrative Committee as well as a member of the bishops’ Catholic education and priorities and plans committees.

A native of Newark, N.J., Bishop DiMarzio was the bishop of Camden, N.J., from 1999 until 2003, when he was named to head the Brooklyn Diocese.

He has spent his priestly ministry of over 40 years in the areas of immigration assistance and refugee resettlement services.

Bishop DiMarzio has had a high-profile role as both an advocate for refugees and immigrant concerns in political forums, and as the initiator and administrator of programs to assist refugees and immigrants within the U.S. and throughout the world.

Before he became a bishop, then-Father DiMarzio spent six years, from 1985 to 1991, as executive director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Catholic Conference, the precursor to the USCCB.

He is chairman of the board of the Center for Migration Studies. Currently, he also is a member of the boards of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., known as CLINIC, and the Migration Policy Institute. He is a member of the USCCB migration committee; he is a former chairman of this committee.

Bishop DiMarzio also is a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

From 2003 to 2005, Bishop DiMarzio served as the U.S. representative to the Global Commission on International Migration, a U.N.-sponsored commission.

—CNS