By Jessica Easthope
Nine Diocese of Brooklyn priests are making it official. They assumed the title of Monsignor in February, but their conferral ceremony is finally taking place at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn after being postponed for months due to the pandemic.
“There’s a certain excitement for me, it’s a recognition as your involvement in ministry is diminishing so it’s something nice,” said Monsignor John Gildea.
In 2014 Pope Francis changed the rules — now only priests who are 65 and older can become monsignors, the title symbolizing a life of service well-lived.
The new monsignors include Monsignor Richard Ahlemeyer, Monsignor Joseph Cunningham, Monsignor Edward Doran, Monsignor Casper Furnari, Monsignor John Gildea, Monsignor John Harrington, Monsignor William Hoppe, Monsignor Raymond Roden and Monsignor John Vesey.
“Only 10 percent of the number of priests in the diocese can be monsignors, so we have some restrictions that we didn’t have in the past, so it’s an even greater honor I think,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
For each of the men their new titles means something different.
“I was relatively uncertain that I would ever be a monsignor but I guess at age 80 I’m entitled to it but it’s a nice thing recognizing years of service and contribution,” said Monsignor Edward Doran.
Monsignor Raymond Roden’s new future is making him think about the past.
“It reminds me most of all how much I loved the title Father. I also love being called Padre and Abba in the Jewish communities, I can’t think of anything more wonderful than being called Abba,” said Monsignor Roden.
Earlier this year, Monsignor Roden overcame a serious battle with coronavirus. He recently left his long-time home at Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, Queens.
“I did the best I could at Our Lady of Sorrows, I gave it everything I had. It was time to move on, very clearly, and now I’m happy Father Manuel is the pastor there. I can go in peace as it were,” Monsignor Roden said.
Bishop DiMarzio says the new monsignors are an outstanding reflection of obedience and dedication.
“Each one of them was uniquely obedient to the requests they were given to do ministry, sometimes outside the country, outside the diocese, they really did do God’s will well,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
The monsignors are each continuing their service in different ways, but all have had a life well-lived.