June 1, 2004
Some may recall that on February 28, 1978, the day I was ordained the sixth Bishop of Paterson, I used the words St. Thomas More was quoted as speaking in Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons: "And so it all begins." Actually, Thomas More was said to have spoken those words, as he was about to take the final steps in his legal battle with Henry VIII and undergo his own inevitable martyrdom.
It was in no such context that I used the great saint's poignant words twenty-six years ago. I wanted to express my openness to God's will, to be sure, but I did so in the context of hope for the Church of Paterson, of joy in beginning a new chapter in the ongoing story of this fascinating three-county diocese, and of my desire to make whatever contribution I could as Jesus' and the people's "unworthy servant." That is what I have confessed myself to be in every Mass I've offered within the diocese as principal celebrant since that day. And I've said those words out of conviction and not just because the words are included in the Sacramentary's Eucharistic Prayers.
I recall thinking that it was important to begin with an optimism based on the conviction that the Lord is in charge, that the Holy Spirit dwells within a very human Church and within each of its very human members, and that when we work together with Christ, he will bless our efforts and often work wonders even when those efforts are not all they should be.
I also recall saying or at least thinking that there was no point back then in predicting precisely what those efforts would produce. It became obvious soon enough, however, that goal setting along with long range and short range planning were needed, and I must say that many priests and people in our parishes and our diocesan offices are especially gifted in this area.
Some people are more visionary - they dream of things and say let's go for it. Others are more practical - they weigh the options and figure out the ways to get things done. Some are dauntless; others are cautious. I have been blessed with the input of priests and people who have many varied gifts and ideas, and if I didn't come across as appreciating them all - even if there was no way I could fulfill them all - the fault is mine, not theirs.
Now that my time as Bishop of Paterson has come to an end, I can joyfully and hopefully repeat what I said at the start: "And so it all begins!" This time, however, I say it with my successor foremost in mind: Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, the seventh Bishop of Paterson. I am most grateful to Almighty God for inspiring our Holy Father Pope John Paul II and everyone who had anything to do with bringing Bishop Arthur's name to the Holy Father's attention. No matter who they were, it was the Successor of Saint Peter who gave the nod and at the same time gave the Church of Paterson an outstanding shepherd.
It's pro forma, I suppose, to speak positively about one's successor, but I mean it when I say that "our Bishop Arthur" as I along with all the priests in the diocese will refer to him within Mass once he is officially installed, is a good priest, a brilliant scholar, a humble down-to-earth bishop who will be right at home in Paterson in no time. In fact, he has been "right at home" here for some time. He has assisted in one of our parishes for many years. Imagine that!, a bishop from outside the diocese, though, of course, from a diocese right next door, who has helped out in one of our Passaic parishes. Such things don't happen very often.
Bishop Serratelli has had an influence on the lives and spirituality of more people in the Diocese of Paterson than even he knows through the priests of our diocese whom he has directed and has taught in his Scripture and Theology courses in the seminary. Now he is to be the teacher in Jesus' name of all the Church of Paterson's members.
Archbishop Montalvo in confirming the Holy Father's acceptance of my "resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Paterson" and the appointment of Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli to the same See, assured me of his "prayers for many years of good health for continued service in the Church." I hope for that, too, and I'm open to what the Lord has in mind for me. It will be different. For one thing, I've been going to the office for 50 years, but I've also had a multitude of opportunities to make pastoral visits and to celebrate many Liturgies and special events in our Cathedral and all the other parishes, in schools and religious houses, and in such places as chapels, camps and cemeteries, hospitals and homes, sacred shrines and blocked off streets.
Will I miss all this? Not, I think, if I have "good health for continued service in the Church," in whatever way the Lord plans. Most retired people I know say the one thing they don't miss is the pressure such as I feel every week when I know my article for the Beacon is about due.
Perhaps I've said more about myself than I should have. What I want more than anything else is for Bishop Serratelli to feel welcome, and to know that I am happy not only for him as he takes over as the Pastor of a wonderful Diocese, but also for the faithful members of the diocese including people with all kinds of backgrounds and gifts - religious men and women, priests, deacons and seminarians.
We have been given a good bishop who knows and loves Jesus and his Gospel message. He also knows and loves the call he has received to proclaim it.
And so it all begins - again!
By Michael Wojcik
PATERSON - The Paterson Diocese this week rejoiced in welcoming its new spiritual leader and shepherd - Bishop Arthur Joseph Serratelli - who has already forged a close relationship with his new diocese.
At a press conference Tuesday, June 1 at St. John's Cathedral here to announce that Pope John Paul II¹s choice for Paterson's new bishop, Bishop Serratelli said, "I am most happy to make my home along the banks of the Passaic and to give my heart and life to this Bride of Christ: the Church of Paterson." During late morning press conference, which attracted media form the metropolitan area, Bishop Rodimer - who has been spiritual leader of the Paterson Diocese for 26 years - announced that Pope John Paul II had accepted his resignation. He submitted it, as required by canon law, on his 75th birthday, Oct. 25, 2002.
"When I heard that the next bishop would be Bishop Serratelli, I was delighted," said Bishop Rodimer. "I knew what a good bishop he will be." Bishop Serratelli¹s installation as the seventh bishop of Paterson is scheduled for Tuesday, July 6, at the cathedral.
In retirement, Bishop Rodimer said he plans to "spend more time in the temple in prayer. As I am able, I will continue to be of service to the Lord and the Church, especially with the shortage of priests." He also plans to teach this summer at the College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, and spend more time with his Morris County-based family, notably his brother John, one of his golfing partners.
A Scripture scholar, Bishop Serratelli, 60, was appointed auxiliary bishop of Newark in 2000. Bishop Serratelli has already cultivated a bond with the people of the Paterson Diocese when he was assisting on weekends at St.Anthony of Padua Parish, Passaic, in 1994.
"I always felt at home in Paterson, and now I'm delighted to be officially part of diocese," said the new bishop, who, in the Newark Archdiocese, was serving as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Essex County regional bishop and as rector of St. Andrew's College Seminary at Immaculate Conception Seminary, at Seton Hall University, South Orange, among numerous other positions.
"The people of St. Anthony's are open and lively. They have taken ownership of their parish and give themselves to their parish," said Bishop Serratelli, a Newark native, who also remarked about the considerable growth of the Hispanic parish. Today, church services are vibrant and well attended, the sign of "strength of good parish," he said.
During the press conference, Bishop Serratelli also noted that, in the Paterson Diocese, "The people are many and rich in cultural diversity² and reside in three counties - Passaic, Sussex and Morris - that are an exciting mix of urban, suburban and rural communities."
"I look forward to service as bishop, priest and apostle of the Gospel for the people throughout the Paterson Diocese," said Bishop Serratelli, who has taught Scripture at several seminaries in the area.
"The Paterson Diocese is blessed with dedicated and talented priests who are committed, zealous and religious 9 many of whom I know personally. And there is a strong presence of many religious communities here. With a powerhouse of people like that, the diocese will continue to grow." Fitting with the multiculturalism of the diocese, Bishop Serratelli speaks several languages, including Portuguese, French, Italian and Spanish, which he learned 15 years ago when he traveled to the Dominican Republic.
Head of the Paterson Diocese since 1978, Bishop Rodimer said during the press conference, "I'm happy with my successor. He loves people, the Gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ - just what we needed." A priest for 53 years, Bishop Rodimer called Paterson a "compact diocese" of 360,000 Catholics - much smaller than Newark Archdiocese's 1.3 million Catholics. Serving a large and ever-growing Spanish-speaking population, the parishes of the diocese have experienced some major expansion over the years, he said.
"I am most grateful to Almighty God for inspiring our Holy Father Pope John Paul II and everyone who had anything to do with bringing Bishop Arthur's name to the Holy Father's attention," Bishop Rodimer said in an official statement. "No matter who they were, it was the Successor of Saint Peter who gave the nod and, at the same time, gave the Church of Paterson an outstanding shepherd." Having learned about the appointment of the diocese's new bishop from Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, apostolic nuncio. Bishop Rodimer called Bishop Serratelli a "good priest, a brilliant scholar and a humble down-to-earth bishop who will be right at home in Paterson in no time." Bishop Rodimer acknowledged the new bishop's service to the St. Anthony¹s community and added: "Bishop Serratelli has had an influence on the lives and spirituality of more people in the Diocese of Paterson than even he knows through the priests of our diocese he has directed and has taught in his Scripture courses in the seminary." Archbishop John Myers of Newark offered his congratulations to Bishop Serratelli, with whom he has been a friend since seminary days.
"Bishop Serratelli moves a short distance to his new diocese, but he will always be close to all of us in the Archdiocese of Newark who know and love him," the archbishop said. "This will be especially true for those with whom he shared his knowledge and love for Holy Scripture both as a professor and in his preaching and conferences. "May the Lord grant him continued good health and length of days." During his more than 30-year ministry in academia, Bishop Serratelli has been a systematic theology professor and Biblical studies professor at Immaculate Conception Seminary and a Biblical studies professor at Mount St. Alphonsus, Esophus, N.Y., in the EPS Program at Trinity College, Washington, D.C.; for the Paterson Diocesan Diaconate program; and in New York Archdiocesan Religious Studies.
He also has taught at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, N.Y.; Fordham University, N.Y. and at St. Michael College, Vermont. The new bishop was a doctoral thesis mentor for the Graduate Theological Foundation in Donaldson, Ind.
Bishop Serratelli earned a master's degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome; and another doctorate in sacred theology form the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Ordained in Rome in 1968 at St. Peter's Basilica, Bishop Serratelli was born on April 18, 1944 to Eva (Fasolino) and the late Pio D. Serratelli. His sister, Carolyn Serratelli Distatsio, is married and has three children and four grandchildren.
As a child, Bishop Serratelli attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Newark. He went on to Seton Hall Preparatory School and then Seton Hall University, where he studied philosophy.
For the Newark Archdiocese, Bishop Serratelli's assignments also included: parochial vicar of St. Anthony Parish, Belleville; weekend assistant at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Franklin Lakes; Vicar for Ministries and Vicar General for the Apostolates. He also served on Newark's College of Consultors, Finance Council, Presbyteral Council and Priestly Vocations Board.
In 1998, Pope John Paul II named then-Father Serratelli a Prelate of Honor with the title of monsignor. In 2000, the pope named him as an auxiliary bishop of Newark. At the time, the new bishop adopted the motto is "To live is Christ" from St. Paul¹s Letter to the Philippians, 1:21, which reads: "For me to live is Christ. To die is gain." During his long ministry, Bishop Serratelli has served on numerous boards and committees for the Seton Hall, N.J. Catholic Conference, Immaculate Conception Seminary and the Board of Trustees, Assumption College, Mendham. With the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, Paterson's new bishop has been on the following committees: Committee on American College of Louvain, Member (Region III); Committee on Doctrine, Member; Ad hoc Committee for the Review of the Catechism, Member; Ad hoc Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations, Chairman; Ad hoc Committee for the Spanish Bible for the Church in America, member; Committee for Women in the Church and in Society, member; Task Group on Children and the Liturgy, member; and Task Force for the Review of the Lectionary, member.
"May I in some small way measure up to Bishop Rodimer¹s stature especially evangelizing youth," he said at the press conference.
As to the National Review Board and the priest abuse scandal, the new bishop said he would review the Paterson Diocesan policies - which are in line with U.S. bishops' guidelines.
"We must safeguard youth and children, despite failures of the past," he said. "The bishops should listen to laity. The Church must always be reformed. Spirit leads us the right way. The role of bishop as shepherd is to call people to unity of faith and charity." Upon hearing the news, Lucy Colletti - a parishioner of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Pequannock and active Columbiette - said, "I am thrilled about the announcement. I like the idea that he is soft spoken and such a learned man. As an Italian-American I am also delighted that a fellow Italian American has become the leader of our diocese." Joseph Duffy, diocesan secretary of Catholic Charities Secretariat and executive director of Catholic Charities and Family Services, noted that as a Scripture scholar, the new bishop's leadership will be rooted in Scripture message of Jesus. Msgr. Mark Giordani, cathedral rector, recalled that his connection to Bishop Serratelli was through the visits he made as a fellow priest to Father Hernan Arias, at that time a parochial vicar at the cathedral.
Father Arias, now pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Passaic, had maintained his friendship with the future bishop after having been his student as a seminarian at Immaculate Conception, Msgr. Giordani called the new bishop a "deeply spiritual, great preacher and Scripture scholar." Msgr. Giordani has heard the new bishop give retreats and talks on Scripture that he called "inspiring." "Bishop Serratelli is down to earth, approachable and sensitive to people's needs," the rector said.
Among those commenting on Bishop Serratelli was Gerald M. Costello, founding editor of the Beacon and later of Catholic New York, the newspaper of the newspaper of the New York Archdiocese. Costello recalled that following his retirement from Catholic New York he had taken several Scripture courses taught by Bishop Serratelli at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University.
"He was a very engaging teacher, obviously very knowledgeable, of course, but more than that, he made the study of Old Testament Scriptures very lively. He made these things come alive," said Costello. "The classes were small, mostly seminarians with just a few lay people like myself, and he always made us feel completely welcome." In his Beacon column this week, Bishop Rodimer, "I wanted to express my openness to God's will, to be sure, but I did so in the context of hope for the Church of Paterson, of joy in beginning a new chapter in the ongoing story of this fascinating three-county diocese, and of my desire to make whatever contribution I could as Jesus' and the people's "unworthy servant."
After hearing the news about Father Serratelli's appointment, Father Hernan Arias, pastor of St. Anthony's, Passaic, said his parish is "overjoyed." "The people here feel he is one of their own," said Arias, who first met the bishop in 1981; Bishop Serratelli taught Scripture to Father Arias, who is also the diocese's assistant director of vocations, at Immaculate Conception Seminary.
"After I was ordained, we started to become good friends and since then, we have traveled all over the place together - on vacations, on pilgrimages we organized," said Father Arias who noted that the bishop has "helped out" at St. Anthony¹s for 12 years. "He is very much a part of my family now, as I am of his family." St. Anthony's, Father Arias said, is an open and diverse parish - Hispanics, Filipinos, Italian-Americans and now Caribbeans.
"He reaches out to everybody, relates well to everybody and is very comfortable with everybody," Father Arias of Bishop Serratelli. "He is a city man. He loves the city, which is why he loves to come here." Father Arias noted the bishop's ability to communicate in Spanish and his fluency in Italian, as well of the fact that he speaks French and is "learning Portuguese." "And he taught Greek and Hebrew at the seminary. He has a great ear for languages," said Father Arias.
During the press conference, Bishop Serratelli also commented on other challenges that face the current Church: the challenge of preaching Gospel clearly, yet compassionately; the challenge of strengthening family life in our society; and challenge of promoting vocations among the young. The new bishop said that evangelizing young is among his goals as shepherd of Paterson.
"Bishop Rodimer has admirably and wisely shepherded this diocese in the renewal and growth called for by the Second Vatican Council," Bishop Serratelli said. "And now I am most happy at the call of our Holy Father Pole John Paul II to whom I am deeply grateful for the trust he places in me." At a meeting of the diocesan College of Consultors on the afternoon of June 1, Bishop Rodimer was elected as diocesan administrator until the installation of Bishop Serratelli as the seventh bishop of Paterson on Tuesday, July 6.
Bishop Arthur Joseph Serratelli
was born in Newark, New Jersey on April 8, 1944, the son of Eva Fasolino and the late Pio Serratelli. He has a sister Carolyn, who is married to Donald Distasio, The Distasio's have three children Patrick, Donald and Diane Pia - and four grandchildren Arber, Breanne, Joseph and Alexander.
Bishop Serratelli attended Ann Street School in Newark and completed his grammar school education at Our Lady of Ml. Carmel, Newark. He attended Seton Hall Preparatory School and Seton Hall University in South Orange. He studied for two years at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington and then at the North American College in Rome. While in Rome, he did his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University and Scripture Studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Seton Hall University in 1965 a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in 1969 a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Biblical Institute in 1976, and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in 1977.
Ordained to the priesthood in St. Peter's Basilica by Bishop Francis Reh on December 20, 1968, Bishop Serratelli served for one year as parochial vicar at St. Anthony's, Belleville. He taught Systematic Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary for two years and then returned to Rome for higher studies. From 1977 until 2002 he taught Sacred Scripture and biblical languages at the seminary. He was Rector of St. Andrew's College Seminary at Seton Hall University from 1997-2000.
He also taught at the Redemptorist Seminary in Esopus, New York; St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, New York; the Institute of Religious Studies, Archdiocese of New York; and the lay ministry program of the Educational Program Service of Trinity College. Washington. Bishop Serratelli has been active in giving retreats to priests and religious, diocesan convocations and lectures throughout the United States. Since 1977, he has been weekend assistant in Most Blessed Sacrament parish, Franklin Lakes, and has also served in Holy Family, Nutley and Saint Anthony's, Passaic.
His Holiness, Pope John Paul II named him a Prelate of Honor in 1998. His appointment as Titular Bishop of Encra and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark was announced on July 3. 2000. His Episcopal Ordination was celebrated on September 8, 2000. He was appointed Vicar for Ministries, Regional Bishop of Essex County, and Vicar General for the Apostolates shortly thereafter. In March 2002, he was appointed Vicar General & Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Newark.
As a member of the USCCB in Washington, be serves as chairman of the Ad hoc Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations and is a member of the following: Task Group on Liturgy with Children, Task Farce for the Review of the Lectionary, Ad hoc Committee fur the Review of the Catechism, Ad hoc Committee for the Spanish Bible for the Church in America, Committee on Doctrine, Committee on the American College of Louvain, and Committee for Women in the Church and Society. In addition. he is a member of the following: Board of Bishops of the New Jersey Catholic Conference; Board of Trustees at Assumption College, Mendham, NJ; Board of Trustees at Seton Hall University and Board of Overseers at Immaculate Conception Seminary. In the Archdiocese of Newark, he is a member of the following: College of Consultors, Commission for the Men's Apostolate, Finance Council, Presbyteral Council, and the Priestly Vocations Board.
Memberships and Curriculum Vitae
Memberships and Curriculum Vitae
Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, S.T.D., S.S.L., D.D.
Prelate of Honor
|Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome
Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome
Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome
Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome
Archdiocese of Newark
Auxiliary Bishop of Newark
|Parochial Vicar, St. Anthony's Parish, Bellville, NJ
Weekend Assistant, Blessed Sacrament, Franklin Lakes, NJ
Weekend Assistant, St. Anthony of Padua, Passaic, NJ
Rector, St. Andrew's College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception Seminary
Vicar for Ministries, Archdiocese of Newark
Regional Bishop for Essex County, Archdiocese of Newark
Vicar General for the Apostolates, Archdiocese of Newark
Vicar General & Moderator of the Curia, Archdiocese of Newark
Sexual Harassment Committee
- 1970-1972 Professor of Systematic Theology - Immaculate Conception Seminary Graduate School of Theology - Seton Hall University
- 1976-2001 Professor of Biblical Studies - Immaculate Conception Seminary Graduate School of Theology - Seton Hall University
- 1980-1985 Professor - Biblical Studies - Mt. St. Alphonsus, Esophus, NY
Adjunct Professor - Biblical Studies St. Joseph's, Dunwoodie, NY
- 1984 Professor - Summer Courses - Fordham University, NY
- 1986 Professor - Biblical Studies - Institute of Religious Studies of the Archdiocese of NY - Professor - Biblical Studies - Summer Courses, St. Michael College, Vermont
- 1995-2000 Professor - Biblical Studies - EPS Program, Trinity College, Washington, DC.
- 1995-2001 Doctoral Thesis Mentor --Graduate Theological Foundation, Donaldson, IN
- 1996 Professor - Biblical Studies for Diaconate Program, Diocese of Paterson, NJ
- Seton Hall UniversityRetreat Leader
- Clergy Conferences - Throughout USARetreat Leader
- Missions for the laity - Throughout USA
USCCB, Washington, DC
- Board of Bishops - New Jersey Catholic Conference
- Board of Trustees - Assumption College, Mendham, NJ
- Board of Trustees - Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
- Board of Overseers Seminary Committee, Immaculate Conception Seminary Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
- College of Consultors Archdiocese of Newark
- Finance Council - Archdiocese of Newark
- Presbyteral Council - Archdiocese of Newark
- Priestly Vocations Board - Archdiocese of Newark
- Committee on the American College of Louvain, Member (Region III)
- Committee on Doctrine, Member
- Ad hoc Committee for the Review of the Catechism, Member
- Ad hoc Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations, Chairman
- Ad hoc Committee for the Spanish Bible for the Church in America, Member
- Committee for Women in the Church and in Society, Member
- Task Group on Children and the Liturgy, Member
- Task Force for the Review of the Lectionary, Member
Statement Of Bishop Rodimer
I am pleased to welcome my successor Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
as the seventh Bishop of Paterson. I am most grateful to Almighty God for inspiring our Holy Father Pope John Paul II and everyone who had anything to do with bringing Bishop Arthur's name to the Holy Father's attention. No matter who they were, it was the Successor of Saint Peter who gave the nod and at the same time gave the Church of Paterson an outstanding shepherd.
It's pro forma, I suppose, to speak positively about one's successor, but I mean it when I say that our Bishop Arthur as I along with all the priests in the diocese will refer to him within Mass once he is officially installed, is a good priest, a brilliant scholar, a humble down-to-earth bishop who will be right at home in Paterson in no time. In fact, he has been right at home here for some time. He has assisted in one of our parishes for many years. Imagine that!, a bishop from outside the diocese, though, of course, from one right next door, who has helped out in one of our Passaic parishes. Such things don't happen very often.
Bishop Serratelli has had an influence on the lives and spirituality of more people in the Diocese of Paterson than even he knows through the priests of our diocese he has directed and has taught in his Scripture courses in the seminary.
Now he is to be the teacher in Jesus' name of all the Church of Paterson's members.