Our Faithful Shepherd, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

Table of Contents

We are thankful for Bishop DiMarzio’s 18 years of dedicated leadership as our Shepherd. These instructional materials are provided to introduce students to a few focused areas that can be used in cross-curricular lessons to honor our Bishop.


Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

His Excellency was born in Newark, New Jersey, on June 16, 1944. All four of his grandparents emigrated to the US from southern Italy. He attended grammar school at the Sacred Heart Cathedral School, high school at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, and the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey. He was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest for the Archdiocese of Newark in 1970 and named Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

From 1985 to 1991, he served as executive director of the Office of Migration and Refugee Services at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Bishop DiMarzio was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Newark in 1996, where he served as Vicar for Human Services and executive director for their Catholic Charities agency. In 1980, Bishop DiMarzio earned a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University and a Ph.D. in Social Work Research and Policy in 1985 from Rutgers University.

Teacher Background Resources

The materials below focus on Bishop DiMarzio’s dedication to Mary, vocations, the youth of our diocese, and immigration.  The information can be used to plan lessons. We have included suggested student activities. The following article is a great resource of highlights of Bishop DiMarzio’s Episcopacy in his own words:  Put Out Into the Deep – What We’ve Accomplished in 18 Years  The Tablet- August 7, 2021.

Devotion to Mary

bishop dimarzio coat of arms

Bishop DiMarzio has shared his devotion to Mary, evident in his Coat of Arms motto, “Behold Your Mother.”

Shortly after becoming Bishop, he initiated a Rosary Rally for all school children in October 2004. As a diocese, each school celebrated a special day in October, the month of Mary, by joining in the Rosary. In October 2014, over 1200 students gathered in prayer at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. This tradition continues today.

NET TV: First Rosary Rally at Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph (October 2014)

Suggested Student Activities


An early challenge for Bishop DiMarzio was to increase the number of seminarians. He worked closely with Vocations Directors and saw a growth of 29 seminarians to 60 seminarians in his first few years. He established the (St.) Pope John Paul II House of Discernment. The House of Discernment provides the opportunity for men to prayerfully discern the Lord’s call without giving up a career right away or while continuing their studies at a local college. The diocese has benefited from this increase in vocations. Bishop DiMarzio ordained 104 to the priesthood in the Brooklyn Diocese.

Suggested Student Activities

Read the excerpt below from Bishop DiMarzio’s first homily presented during his Installation Mass.

“Several days ago, I addressed the Bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated women and men, and seminarians of the Diocese of Brooklyn. I spoke to them about the new millennium that we have entered and the call of the Holy Father to enter a new age by “putting out into the deep” and seeking to evangelize and to re-evangelize those who are entrusted to our care. It is never easy to begin over again, to recognize failure and inadequacy, to take risks in order to be truly what we are called to be, and yet this is the challenge before us in a new millennium to be the Church on pilgrimage, making our way to the kingdom of God. And now I ask you, the people of God of the Diocese of Brooklyn, to put out into the deep with me at the Lord’s command. I ask you to become more involved in the mission of the Church in our diocese, to become the new evangelizers by your collaboration in the Church, and, most importantly, to live your vocation in the world, whatever it may be. Our common vocation is the call to holiness which we respond together, for without responding we remain in shallow waters. Put out into the deep, the Lord will give an abundant catch.”

How may his commitment to Evangelization influence the increase of ordinations? 

Read the bible passage from Luke: 2-4.  What do you think Bishop DiMarzio means when he says, “put out into the deep?”

Supporting the Next Generation of the Faithful

lisbon world youth day

Bishop DiMarzio attended every World Youth Day during his tenure.

World Youth Day (WYD) is a worldwide encounter with the Pope celebrated about every three years in a different country. The most recent WYD was celebrated in Panama City, Panamá from January 22-27, 2019, and the next World Youth Day will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2023.

  • 2005: Cologne, Germany
  • 2008: Sydney, Australia
  • 2011: Madrid, Spain
  • 2013: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 2016: Krakow, Poland
  • 2019: Panama City, Panama

Suggested Student Activities

  • Research how World Youth Day began?
  • Referring to the list above, research the main events of each WYD day attended by Bishop DiMarzio.  What was the focus? theme?
  • Class Discussion:  Why do you think Bishop DiMarzio felt it was essential to participate in each one?
  • The next World Youth Day will be in 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.  What do you think will be the important themes for this event?  
  • Extended Thinking Activity: Have students research how they can travel to the next WYD.  They can also explore accommodations, weather for packing, etc.  Students can then create a Google Slide Presentation. They can also research the special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, a major Catholic Pilgrimage site in Portugal.

Supporting the Rights of Immigrants

The Diocese of Brooklyn is known as the “Diocese of Immigrants”.

Bishop DiMarzio had a strong devotion to immigration reform even before he was appointed Bishop of  Brooklyn in 2003.  This is evident in his biography.

Suggested Student Activities

Students can research the different organizations listed above.

Using Bishop DiMarzio’s biography, students can create a timeline of important events within the Theme of immigration.

Extended Thinking Activity:

Using the Past Bishops’ biographies, students can create a timeline of how immigration has been addressed throughout the history of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Student Timeline Activity Template

Past Bishops of Brooklyn

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio