New bishop named for diocese

ALBANY – A Brooklyn priest has been appointed by Pope Francis to succeed retiring longtime Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, the Vatican and the diocese announced Tuesday.

The Rev. Msgr. Edward B. Scharfenberger, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, will succeed Hubbard, who led the Albany diocese for 37 years, according to a diocese news release.

“He seems very personable and pastoral,” said the Rev. Neil Draves-Arpaia, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Broadalbin and St. Francis of Assisi Church in Northville.

The 65-year-old Bishop-Elect Scharfenberger will be the 10th bishop of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.

Hubbard reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 on Oct. 31 and submitted his letter of retirement to Pope Francis at that time. He was instructed to stay on until the appointment and installation of a new bishop.

“How grateful I am to his holiness, Pope Francis, for the awesome privilege to serve as pastor of all the wonderful people in the Diocese of Albany,” Scharfenberger said in a prepared statement. “I am touched by the warm welcome of Bishop Hubbard who has served the Church in Albany with love and dedication for 37 years.

“My heart is full of gratitude to God for my loving family, especially my 93-year-old parents who were generous enough to welcome me, my two brothers and two sisters into this world,” he said. “They taught us how to pray, to trust God and to know Jesus as our friend. Their continuous example shows us that the essence of love is sacrifice.”

In a prepared statement Tuesday, Hubbard wrote, “It is with great joy that we welcome Bishop-Elect Edward Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Brooklyn as the 10th diocesan bishop of Albany. For the past 37 years, I have had the privilege of serving as bishop in the Diocese of Albany – a community consisting of 14 counties spread over 10,000 square miles, stretching from the Pennsylvania border to the Vermont border, from the Massachusetts state line to the Utica city line, from the Northern Catskills to the Southern Adirondacks.

Hubbard noted Scharfenberger has a “rich background” as a canon and civil lawyer, as the head of the Judicial Tribunal in Brooklyn and as pastor for 12 years in St. Matthias in Ridgewood, a multiethnic parish where he has gained fluency in a multitude of languages.

“So we are most grateful that our holy father, Pope Francis, has graced us with such a gifted shepherd, and we pledge him our prayers, loyalty, support and love,” Hubbard stated.

Scharfenberger was born in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. He attended Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Elementary School in Ridgewood and graduated from Cathedral Preparatory Seminary High School in Elmhurst in 1965.

He entered Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston and graduated as an English major in June 1968. The following fall, he was assigned to study theology at the North American College in Rome, Italy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1972.

Scharfenberger was ordained a priest on July 2, 1973, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He served as parochial vicar (associate pastor) at St. Stanislaus Church (Maspeth) and St. Ephrem Church (Dyker Heights) until 1976. He then was assigned to return to Rome for further studies.

In 1977, he earned his graduate degree, summa cum laude, in moral theology from the Academy of St. Alphonsus. He was then assigned to the Catholic University of America, where, in 1980, he earned his advanced graduate degree summa cum laude in Canon Law. He then served in a number of capacities in the Diocesan Tribunal of Brooklyn for 20 years.

Between 1986 and 1990, he attended Fordham University School of Law, where he earned his juris doctor in May 1990. He is admitted to the bar in New York (1991). Between 1993 and 2002, he served as the judicial vicar for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

During his years at the Diocesan Tribunal, he also exercised pastoral ministry at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Forest Hills and at St. Matthew Church in Dix Hills. He has been the administrator of the Diocesan Board of Mediation and Arbitration for the past 15 years, as well as chaplain of the Kings County Catholic Lawyers Guild. He has served as instructor in moral theology at the diocesan Pastoral Institute and as an adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s College.

In 2002, Scharfenberger was appointed pastor of St. Matthias Church in Ridgewood, a large multi-ethnic parish, where he served for 12 years. During this time, he also served as promoter of justice for the Diocese of Brooklyn and was a member of the Diocesan Review Board for Sexual Abuse of Minors. His most recent assignments included vicar for strategic planning and episcopal vicar for Queens.