Clergy, community leaders, and parishioners gathered at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights to watch as Robert J. Brennan was officially installed as the new bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The installation, which was overseen by Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan, officially brought a close to Nicholas DiMarzio’s time as bishop. Dimarzio, age 75, originally submitted his letter of resignation on June 16, 2019.
“I can’t wait to get started, this is just incredibly exciting,” Bishop Brennan said ahead of the installation mass. “New York is a wonderful place to live. I’m going to be so happy serving the church here in Brooklyn and in Queens.
“From the day that my appointment was announced at the end of September, I just experienced such an incredible welcome,” Brennan continued. “Back in September my heartstrings were tugging as I was leaving Columbus [Ohio], but now that I’ve been here a couple days, I can’t wait to get started.”
During a question-and-answer session, Brennan explained that he is not committed to pursuing a concrete plan, but rather listening to the needs of the community and responding accordingly.
“I don’t have an actual program that says we are going to do X, Y, or Z. It would be, quite honestly, a little foolish on my part to come in and say, ‘okay, now it’s the Brennan way of doing things,’” the new bishop said. “There’s a rich history here and I want to learn from that.”
Bishop Robert J. Brennan was born and raised on Long Island, where he attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Lindenhurst and St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip.
He later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and computer science from St. John’s University before completing his studies for the priesthood at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington.
Brennan served as a parish priest for St. Patrick in Smithtown and was later ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. In 2019, Pope Francis appointed him as the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Columbus in Ohio.
Bishop DiMarzio praised Brennan for his previous work, and thanked the Diocese of Brooklyn for supporting him through 18 years of service.
“Today I offer congratulations snd prayers to my successor,” DiMarzio said. “I am grateful to have served as your bishop for 18 years.”
DiMarzio served as bishop through a number of trying times, including 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. However, the bishop also faced his own share of controversy in 2019 when he was accused of child sexual abuse during his time as a priest in New Jersey during the 1970’s.
DiMarzio denied the claims, and this past September a Vatican probe exonerated the bishop of any wrongdoing.
When questioned about sexual abuse within the Church, Bishop Brennan stated that the Diocese of Brooklyn will continue to work towards addressing past and present accusations.
“My first step will be to understand even better the good things that are happening and the good work that’s taking place,” Brennan said. “And then to meet with survivors, to get to know people.”