COURIER L 6 IFE, DECEMBER 3-9, 2021
Robert Brennan formally installed
BY BEN BRACHFELD
Robert Brennan has offi cially assumed
the role as the eighth Bishop of
Brooklyn, taking over the Diocese of
Brooklyn and Queens from scandalplagued
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio,
who has presided over the Diocese’s 1.3
million Catholics since 2003.
Brennan, 59, formally assumed
the role at an installation ceremony,
presided over by Timothy Cardinal
Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic
Nuncio to the US, at the Co-Cathedral
of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights.
Brennan previously served as the
Bishop of Columbus, Ohio since 2019.
“From the day that my appointment
was announced at the end of September
through today and going forward,
I just experienced such an incredible
welcome,” Brennan said at a press conference
before the mass on Tuesday
morning. “Back in September my heartstrings
were tugging as I was leaving
Columbus, but now that I’ve been here a
couple days, I can’t wait to get started.”
DiMarzio submitted his retirement
papers to Pope Francis back in
2019, upon reaching 75 years of age,
but they were not accepted until September
of this year, at which point Di-
Marzio announced his retirement and
the Church announced the selection of
Brennan as the new Bishop.
Though Brennan is technically
coming to Brooklyn by way of Ohio,
he’s no transplant: he was born in the
Bronx and was raised on Long Island.
Before his service in Columbus, he was
an Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of
Rockville Centre in Nassau County.
Brennan’s coat of arms as the new
Bishop has the motto “thy will be
done,” a part of the Lord’s Prayer symbolizing
how God will do what he wills.
He said he chose the simple motto because
when he would visit the grave
of his grandfather whom he never met
on Long Island as a child, he saw the
phrase on the gravestone.
The new Bishop said that he doesn’t
have any bright-eyed ideas on how
to come into Brooklyn and shake the
place up, but that he instead wants to
make decisions as he goes along, meets
people, and learns the customs and culture
of his large, diverse new Diocese.
“I don’t have an actual program of
we’re going to do X, Y, or Z. It would
be, quite honestly, a little foolish on
my part to come in and say, ‘ok, now
it’s the Brennan way of doing things,'”
Brennan said. “There’s a rich history
here, and I want to learn from that.”
Brennan again noted the cultural
richness and diversity of Brooklyn and
Queens as he addressed his congregation
in his fi rst speech as Bishop.
“The world is found in Brooklyn
and Queens,” Brennan said. “Every
language, every nationality. We truly
Robert Brennan, the new Bishop of Brooklyn.
Photo by Adrian Childress
are the Diocese of Immigrants.”
DiMarzio, in a tweet, offered “congratulations
and prayers” to Brennan
and expressed pride in his nearly two
decades of service.
In his fi nal column in the Tablet,
the Brooklyn Diocese’s newspaper, Di-
Marzio expressed pride in having led
the Diocese through tough times in
the city, such as the aftermath of 9/11
and through Hurricane Sandy and
the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said
he was proud of having ensured the
Church stayed contemporary by maintaining
a presence on social media,
reforming the governance of Catholic
education, and working to root out racism
and sexual abuse in the Diocese.
“As my journey comes to an end as
the Seventh Bishop of Brooklyn I am
fi lled with thankfulness in all we have
accomplished together during these
past 18 years,” DiMarzio wrote. “Still,
we need to continue to put out into the
deep and not be afraid.”
DiMarzio’s tenure was not without
controversy, however, as he himself was
accused of child sexual abuse in 2019 dating
back to his time as a priest in New
Jersey in the 70s. One accuser claimed
that DiMarzio abused him when he was
11 or 12 years old while the other said
the abuse happened when he was just 6.
DiMarzio denied all wrongdoing,
and in September the Vatican exonerated
him of any wrongdoing, fi nding
the allegations against him “not to have
the semblance of the truth.” DiMarzio
said he had been vindicated by the ruling,
and Brennan was announced as
the new Bishop just a few weeks later.
A lawyer for the accusers, Mitchell
Garabedian, said at the time that the
Church’s probe had no legitimacy as
it was controlled and paid for by the
Church, which found no wrongdoing
on its own part. Civil litigation is ongoing
in New Jersey under that state’s
Child Victims Act.
Brennan said in September that
the Brooklyn Diocese is known “well
beyond its borders” for its victim assistance
program, and that he was confi -
dent in the Vatican’s investigation.