By Tim Harfmann
There was a special birthday celebration for Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio as he turned 75 years old on Sunday, June 16.
“It’s a great day that I got to 75! I appreciate that very much, and I’m trying to enjoy it,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
The shepherd enjoyed it with members of his flock at Saint Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Students from the parish’s Catholic academy and religious education program presented Bishop DiMarzio with flowers and a cake.
“It was an honor that he wanted to come to our church on his birthday,” said parishioner Annalisa Conte. “I think the whole parish was proud to have him here.”
“He’s a good role model for Catholics to practice faith and our beliefs,” said Angelina Simonetti, another parishioner.
Now that he’s 75, Bishop DiMarzio must submit his letter of resignation to the Vatican — a requirement all bishops must follow when they reach the milestone age.
It is then up to the Holy Father to accept the resignation and appoint a successor.
“Normally it’s a process of six months to a year when they find somebody to take your place,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
“Then once it’s announced, you become the apostolic administrator until the new bishop is placed in,” he continued.
Who the pope will choose and when exactly that will be is unclear.
Monsignor David Cassato, pastor of Saint Athanasius Church, said Bishop DiMarzio has made a lasting impression on the diocese over the past 15 years.
“He has made a tremendous impact on this diocese. He has a great administrative skill, but more than that, he has a tremendous pastoral skill. And he’s able to reach out language-wise, all sorts of things that he can do for God’s people here in Brooklyn and Queens,” said Monsignor Cassato.
A native of Newark, New Jersey, he was the bishop of Camden, New Jersey before becoming the seventh bishop of Brooklyn in 2003.
Bishop DiMarzio has been a champion for immigrants’ rights, vocations, and Catholic education.
But he said what he’s most proud of is strengthening relationships with Christ.
“I think, basically, trying to make the diocese one of evangelization, of trying to reach out to people who are not coming to Church, reach out to those who are not Catholic. That was my beginning sermon when I took over the diocese, and I continue that,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
Continuing that at the age of 75 and beyond.