Past Bishops of the Brooklyn Diocese

Table of Contents

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (2003-2021)

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.

In July of 1999, Bishop DiMarzio was appointed by Pope John Paul II as the Sixth Bishop of Camden, New Jersey, and served there until October 2003.  On August 1, 2003, he was named the Seventh Bishop of Brooklyn by Pope John Paul II.  On October 3, 2003, the Rite of Installation was at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  There were approximately 1300 people in attendance. Edward Cardinal Egan, the Metropolitan Archbishop of New York, was the main celebrant.   Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Papal Nuncio to the United States, read the official proclamation from Pope John Paul II.  More than 40 Bishops and Archbishops from other dioceses participated in the service.

Bishop DiMarzio has devoted his 18 years in the Brooklyn Diocese to the Blessed Mother as is evident in his Coat of Arms motto, “Behold Your Mother.”  Shortly after being installed as Bishop of Brooklyn, he initiated a Rosary Rally for all Catholic school children in October 2004.  As a diocese, each school celebrated a special day in October, the month of Mary, by joining in praying 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.

When one looks at the many highlights of the Episcopacy of Bishop DiMarzio, it is evident that the issues of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, immigration, and the ongoing discipleship of youth are important to him. An early priority for Bishop DiMarzio was to increase the number of seminarians for Brooklyn and Queens. 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. Bishop DiMarzio ordained 104 men to the priesthood throughout his Episcopacy in the Diocese of Brooklyn. The diocese and the faithful have benefited immensely from this increase in vocations. It is important to note as well that Bishop DiMarzio’s focus on vocations extended to women and men in religious life. In collaboration with the Episcopal Delegate for Religious, work was initiated within various religious communities to identify those who feel they wish to dedicate themselves to a religious vocation.

He inspired the youth of our diocese to deepen their faith. Bishop DiMarzio celebrated Catholic Schools Week each year by visiting schools and celebrating Mass throughout Queens and Brooklyn. The first Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon to benefit the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund was held on December 12, 2006. This luncheon continues to generate necessary funds to assist with student scholarships.   In January 2009, Bishop DiMarzio announced “Preserving the Vision,” a five-year plan to reorganize Catholic schools.  In 2014, with Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York City, the Education Investment Tax Credits campaign was begun. In March the same year, Bishop DiMarzio led a rally for educational tax credits in Albany.

Bishop DiMarzio also attended all the World Youth Days during his tenure as Bishop of Brooklyn (2005, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2019).   World Youth Day (WYD) is a worldwide encounter with the Holy Father 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.

Bishop Di Marzio had a solid devotion to immigration even before he was appointed Bishop of Brooklyn, given his own family history of immigration. Bishop DiMarzio has spent his ministry of over 50 years in immigration assistance and refugee resettlement services. He has served as both an advocate for refugees and immigrant concerns in political forums and as the initiator and administrator of programs to assist refugees and immigrants within the U.S. and throughout the world.

On October 4, 2003, Bishop DiMarzio spoke at the Immigration Rally in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens.  This was the day after his Installation. In May 2004, he traveled to Rome to participate in  the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People as he was a member. Bishop DiMarzio served on the Boards of The Center for Migration Studies, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), the USCCB Migration Committee, and the Migration Policy Institute. From 2003 to 2005, Bishop DiMarzio served as the U.S. representative to the Global Commission on International Migration, a United Nations sponsored commission.

In his Installation homily, the Bishop offered the following greeting in 20 different languages: “I look forward in anticipation and enthusiasm to working with all of you in this Church of Brooklyn in Kings and Queens Counties entrusted to my Episcopal care.”

Bishop DiMarzio, our Shepherd, has faithfully led the Diocese of Brooklyn and has addressed the needs of his people.

Bishop Thomas Daily (1990-2003)

Bishop Daily
  • Born in Belmont, Massachusetts.
  • Attended Boston College and entered St.John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts.
  • He was ordained as a parish priest at St. Anne’s Wollaston, Mass. on January 10, 1952.
  • From 1960-1965 he went to serve as a missionary in Peru with the St. James Society. He returned to St. Anne’s from 1965-1971.
  • 1971-1975 he was named secretary to Boston’s Cardinal Humberto Medeiros.
  • In 1975 he was ordained auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston. His episcopal motto was “The Lord is My Light.”
  • In 1976, he was named Vicar General of Boston as well as the coordinator of the Spanish Apostolate until 1984.
  • In 1984, he was named the founding Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Almost 6 years later on February 20, 1990, he was appointed the sixth Bishop of Brooklyn, He took canonical possession on April 16, 1990, at St. James Cathedral-Basilica. A public installation was held on April 18, 1990, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, Sunset Park.
  • He served as Supreme Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus; a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Church in Latin America; NCCB Committee on Missions; and a member of the Board of Trustees of Catholic University, Washington D.C.
  • During his tenure in Brooklyn, he welcomed Pope John Paul II to the diocese in 1995. The Holy Father celebrated Mass at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, the only pope to celebrate mass in this diocese.
  • He conducted the seventh Diocesan Synod 1996-1997; instituted the Disciples in Mission evangelization program in 1998: successfully completed the “Alive in Hope” capital campaign with pledges of $80 million; and announced a plan for clustering of parishes and for clergy renewal and lay formation in 1999.
  • He retired in 2003 and passed away at the age of 89 on May 15, 2017.
  • The Tablet: Obituary
  • The Tablet: Remembering Bishop Daily

Extended Thinking:

Bishop Daily served as Supreme Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus.

Research the Knight of Columbus organization. How have they assisted the people Diocese of Brooklyn?

Bishop Francis Mugavero (1968-1990)

Bishop Mugavero
  • Born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
  • Attended Cathedral College and entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, Long Island.
  • He was ordained as a parish priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn on May 14, 1940.
  • In 1965 he was Master of Ceremonies of the Vatican Pavilion of New York’s World Fair in Flushing Meadows during the visit of Pope Paul VI.
  • He headed Brooklyn’s Office of Catholic Charities before being appointed the fifth bishop on July 15, 1968. He was the first bishop native to the Diocese of Brooklyn as well as the first Italian-American bishop.
  • Established the Catholic Migration Office to serve the needs of immigrants in 1971.
  • He coined the phrase “diocese of immigrants” and was proud that mass was said in 14 languages throughout the Diocese of Brooklyn.
  • In 1982, He announced The Nehemiah Project- to build on the vast acres of vacant land in eastern Brooklyn and offer the homes to buyers with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000. By 1985 the Nehemiah project had produced 300 new row houses in Brownsville at an average cost of $51,000 and sold them to families with incomes averaging less than $25,000.
  • In 1987, Bishop Mugavero established the Immaculate Conception Center at the site of the former Cathedral College. In addition to the Bishops Mugavero/Mulrooney Residences for priests and Cathedral Seminary Residence of the Immaculate Conception, the pastoral center serves as a retreat and conference center.
  • He was a founder of the Campaign for Human Development, an annual fundraiser for the poor.
  • He retired in 1990. He died July 12, 1991, with the title “Bishop Emeritus”.

Extended Thinking:

Bishop Mugavero is known for supporting members of the parish who were in need. Research the Nehemiah Project. 

  • Why was it named Nehemiah?
  • Where were the houses built?
  • What is the value of those homes today?

Bishop Bryan Joseph McEntegart (1957-1968)

Bishop McEntegart
  • Born in Brooklyn.
  • Attended Manhattan College and entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.
  • He was named curate at Sacred Heart Church in NYC and was transferred to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • After attending graduate studies at the New York School of Social Work he was named the first director of the Children’s Division in Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. (1920-1930)
  • He served on the White House Committee on Child Welfare under President Herbert Hoover and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • He became Bishop of Ogdensburg, New York in 1943.
  • He served as rector at Catholic University of America from 1953-1957.
  • He was named the fourth Bishop of Brooklyn on April 16, 1957. He was installed by Cardinal Francis Spellman on June 13, 1957.
  • During his tenure, he launched 6 new high schools.
  • He oversaw the buildout of The Catholic Television Network (CTN) into all schools in 1966.
  • He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.
  • He was given the honorary title of Archbishop by Pope Paul VI in 1966.
  • He tendered his resignation because of poor health on July 17, 1968.

Extended Thinking:

What was the Second Vatican Council? What changes were made in the Catholic Church?

What changes were made on behalf of Children’s Welfare under President Hoover and President Roosevelt?

Bishop Thomas Molloy (1922-1956)

Bishop Molloy
  • Born in Nashua, New Hampshire.
  • Attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn and entered St. John’s Seminary.
  • He was named curate of Queen of All Saints, Brooklyn in 1909.
  • On June 28, 1920, Molloy was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn by Pope Benedict XV.
  • Molloy was named the third Bishop of Brooklyn on November 21, 1921.
  • He had a 35-year tenure.
  • During his tenure, the number of Catholics exceeded one million and made the Brooklyn Diocese the most populous in the country.
  • He founded Immaculate Conception Seminary in 1930.
  • During the Great Depression, he established a labor school where working men could learn the Catholic principles that apply to trade unionism.
  • He was given the honorary title of Archbishop on April 7, 1951.
  • Molloy suffered a stroke and an attack of pneumonia on November 15, 1956. He died eleven days later at his residence in Brooklyn, aged 72.
  • In 1956, the year of his death, Molloy Catholic College for Women was established in Rockville Centre. The Sisters of St Dominic (Order of Preachers) of Amityville initiated the school and teach there. The College is now co-educational and simply named Molloy College.
  • Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens is named after him.

Extended Thinking:

How did the Great Depression affect Brooklyn and Queens? Why did Bishop Molloy think opening a labor school was beneficial for Catholics during the Great Depression?

Bishop Charles McDonnell (1892-1921)

Bishop McDonnell
  • Born in Manhattan, New York
  • Attended college in Rome where he was ordained in 1878.
  • He was named master of ceremonies and served in St. Patrick’s Cathedral from 1879-1894.
  • On March 11, 1892, McDonnell was appointed the second Bishop of Brooklyn by Pope Leo XIII.
  • He served as Bishop for 29 years.
  • During his tenure, the Catholic population of the Diocese increased from about 400,000 to 900,000.
  • He erected 54 parishes and schools for new immigrant groups settling in the diocese, many from Italy and Eastern Europe, as well as for Hispanics and African Americans,
  • He invited several religious institutes into the diocese, including the Redemptorists, Benedictines, Franciscans, Jesuits, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Daughters of Wisdom, and Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus.
  • He established Catholic Schools Office in 1894 and Catholic Charities in 1899.
  • He founded the diocesan newspaper, The Tablet, in 1908.
  • McDonnell later died from kidney trouble in Brentwood, aged 67. He was waked in St. James’s Pro-Cathedral and buried alongside Bishop Loughlin in the downstairs crypt.

Extended Thinking:

Research Catholic Charities and how it continues to serve the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Bishop John Loughlin (1853-1891)

Bishop Loughlin
  • Born in County Down, Ireland
  • Attended college in Quebec, Canada
  • Was ordained in 1840 and was transferred to the Archdiocese of New York in 1841. He was named vicar general and served in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • In 1853, he was named the first Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Brooklyn by Pope Pius IX.
  • He served as Bishop for 38 years.
  • During his tenure, the Catholic population of the Diocese increased from about 15,000 to nearly 400,000.
  • He erected 125 churches and chapels, 93 Parochial schools, 2 colleges, 10 Orphanages, 5 hospitals, and 2 homes for the elderly, and a seminary.
  • He supported the Union troops during the Civil war.
  • He served on the First Vatican Council.
  • Bishop Loughlin Memorial HS (Brooklyn) was named for him. Formerly known as the St. James Academy, the oldest Catholic high school in NYC. The school band played at the funeral procession of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

Extended Thinking:

Why was the Diocese of Brooklyn formed in 1853? What was happening in NYC that led to the sharp rise in the Catholic population?