Msgr. Peter Vaccari, rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, has been named to succeed Msgr. John E. Kozar as president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association/Pontifical Mission for Palestine, Cardinal Dolan announced Oct. 22.
Msgr. Vaccari will initiate the process of transition as vice president Jan. 1. At a date to be determined in the near future, Msgr. Kozar will retire and Msgr. Vaccari will assume his responsibilities as president.
The Holy See approved the nomination and election to succession.
Cardinal Dolan, who serves as chair and treasurer of the board of trustees of CNEWA/PMP, informed the staff of the changes at a morning meeting in the boardroom of CNEWA at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan after leading a prayer. Flanking the cardinal at the boardroom table were Msgr. Kozar and Msgr. Vaccari.
The cardinal explained that Msgr. Kozar, whom he described as “a very methodical, proactive man who believes this is not about him personally, but all about Jesus and His Church,” took the initiative to approach the cardinal and the board that it was time for them to think about his successor.
Introducing Msgr. Kozar’s successor, Cardinal Dolan said, “Msgr. Vaccari, welcome to the CNEWA family.”
Msgr. Vaccari, addressing the staff, said, “I’m looking forward to getting to know each one of you…and the vital role that you play here…”
He said he will continue to learn from the “great teachers” he has in Cardinal Dolan and Msgr. Kozar “and now I’m looking to you as my teachers” also in “learning about the CNEWA world.”
A priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Msgr. Vaccari will conclude his term as rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary Dec. 31. Ordained in 1977, he has served as a parish priest, seminary professor, chaplain with the U.S. Air Force Reserve and rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington before becoming rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in 2012.
Msgr. Kozar, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, began his tenure as president of CNEWA/PMP in 2011, after having served as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies for 10 years.
Msgr. Kozar, speaking to CNY after the meeting, said Msgr. Vaccari “is a terrific successor… Everything points to CNEWA being better than ever before.”
An agency of the Holy See founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA works for, through and with the Eastern churches throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe.
Cardinal Dolan announced the change to the seminarians at the 7 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s Seminary the same day. According to Msgr. Vaccari, the cardinal also announced the appointment of Father William Cleary as interim rector. A priest of the archdiocese, Father Cleary currently serves as dean of seminarians and chair of the department of Sacred Scripture.