Pope Francis did the Archdiocese of New York a good turn last month when he approved the appointment of two of our most experienced and popular priests to become auxiliary bishops.
Bishop-elect Edmund Whalen, currently the vicar for clergy, and Bishop-elect Gerardo J. Colacicco, pastor of St. Joseph-Immaculate Conception parish in Millbrook, will be ordained as bishops at an afternoon Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dec. 10.
We join so many others in congratulating them on their honor and wishing them a joyful, prayerful transition to their new role in service to God, his people and his Church.
As observers of the archdiocese, we’ve watched their journeys through the priesthood and are confident that their low-key pastoral styles and leadership experience have prepared them well for this next stage of ministry.
Cardinal Dolan, announcing the appointments Oct. 10 at an early-morning Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, called it “a day of special joy and thanksgiving” for the archdiocese and said he looks forward to “working even more closely” with the two bishops-elect, calling them “outstanding priests.”
In a very practical way, the appointments mean that the cardinal will get some invaluable assistance in carrying out his mission and duties as spiritual leader of the large and complex archdiocese.
Both bishops-elect are native New Yorkers, born and raised within the borders of the archdiocese—Bishop-elect Whalen is from Staten Island and Bishop-elect Colacicco is a native of Poughkeepsie.
And both have extensive and varied experience in ministry here.
Bishop-elect Colacicco’s priestly assignments have kept him, for the most part, in the northern part of the archdiocese. Before becoming pastor of St. Joseph-Immaculate Conception, not far from his Poughkeepsie birthplace, he was pastor for 12 years at another Dutchess County parish, St. Columba in Hopewell Junction. Across the Hudson River in Newburgh, he was pastor of Sacred Heart parish from 1996 to 2002.
Bishop-elect Whalen also had long service in his “hometown” of Staten Island. He was principal of Msgr. Farrell High School there from 2010 to 2018 and pastor of St. Joseph and St. Thomas in the Pleasant Plains neighborhood for three years before that. He also served as pastor of St. Benedict in the Bronx, from 2001 to 2007.
Two important experiences they shared, though not at the same time, is that both were priest-secretaries under Cardinal John O’Connor, and both served in leadership roles in the formation of new priests as part of the St. Joseph Seminary system.
Bishop-elect Whalen was rector of the seminary’s St. John Neumann Residence and was a professor of moral theology and vice rector of development at the seminary.
Bishop-elect Colacicco was director of pastoral formation at the seminary for four years in the 1990s.
Their backgrounds in the Church are certainly impressive, and we’re confident they’ll go forward in service in that same spirit.
As the day of their episcopal ordinations nears, we’ll be praying for our newest shepherds, and we invite all Catholic New Yorkers to join us.