This has been an exiting week for our Diocese of Albany, New York. Just a few days ago, it was announced that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, had named a new bishop for the diocese to succeed our retiring bishop. I would just like to share a few thoughts about each of these men.
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard
In 1977, Pope Paul VI named a local priest of our diocese, Howard J. Hubbard, to be the ninth bishop of the Albany Diocese. The new bishop was the youngest bishop in the country at the time and grew up in Troy, New York. I had the privilege of getting to know Howard when we were seminary students together and it has been a wonderful friendship. For the past thirty-seven years, he has also been my bishop. Almost twenty years ago, I was privileged to have him ordain me to the diaconate for the diocese. Bishop Hubbard has served the faithful of the diocese well during some very trying and challenging times in our Church. When he reached the mandatory retirement age for bishops at 75 this past fall, he submitted his resignation and the diocese awaited the announcement of his replacement. I know that Bishop Hubbard will continue to serve the people in the diocese in whatever way he can to assist his successor. It is my hope that he has a chance to relax and enjoy his retirement and that God will continue to give him good health.
Bishop-elect Edward Scharfenberger
When I read my e-mail early one morning last week, I was surprised to hear that Pope Francis had named a new bishop for the diocese. Immediately, everyone began to wonder who this person was and when he would become the tenth bishop of the diocese. Bishop-elect Scharfenberger is a native of Brooklyn and has served the Brooklyn Diocese in a number of capacities. He is a civil and canon lawyer, a linguist, a scholar, but above all a pastor. It is this pastoral experience that will help him guide the over 330,000 faithful in 127 parishes through this fourteen county diocese that ecompasses an area of over 10,000 square miles. In speaking with a deacon colleague in the Brooklyn Diocese, I was told that we were getting a "fine priest" as our new bishop and that we would be blessed by his presence among us. A deacon is ordained to serve his bishop and I look forward to assisting the new bishop in any way that I can. The prayers of the people of our diocese go with Bishop-elect Scharfenberger who will be ordained and installed as our bishop on April 10.
May God grant good health and many blessings for these two fine men who have so nobly and faithfully served our Church.