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Brooklyn’s Msgr. Edward Scharfenberger Named Bishop Of Albany

WAMC Composite Photo by Dave Lucas
Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany

Reverend Monsignor Edward Scharfenberger was announced as the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Albany Tuesday morning.

Some 36 years ago, in March 1977,  Reverend Howard Hubbard received word from the Vatican that he was chosen to serve as Bishop of Albany. The years have passed quickly.

Bishop Hubbard submitted his mandatory resignation letter on October 31st, his 75th birthday,  after spending more than half his life as the Albany diocese spiritual leader.

Pope Francis handpicked a successor: Rev. Msgr. Edward  Scharfenberger, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn:  "When I got the call last Monday, actually a friend of mine from the Brooklyn diocese who happens to be working at the apostolic nunciature, he said to me 'in a few minutes a priest is gonna be calling you,' and i said 'well what did I do?' And a little while later I did get a call and I thought it was him calling back again too, so I must have said something like 'so you just called me ten minutes ago' and it happened to be Archbishop Vigano who said 'this is the apostolic nuncio, and the Holy Father would like to ask you to be the Bishop of Albany. And it took me totally by surprise."

Scharfenberger, ordained in 1973, draws inspiration from Pope Francis' informal style of leadership, at least in contrast with his recent predecessors.   "He sees himself primarily as the pastor of souls. That's the model I'd like to follow."

Credit WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
Bishop Hubbard brought a gift-bag to the press conference: here he had just passed the traditional 'red cap' along with a NY baseball cap to Bishop-elect Scharfenberger

The Albany Diocese has spent nearly four decades under Hubbard. Is the 65-year-old Monsignor Scharfenberger a papal counterweight to that longevity, restricting the time one man can serve as bishop? Already, Scharfenberger faces a ticking clock.  "I am aware of the importance of spending each of those days well."

The Albany Diocese has about 330,000 parishioners in 14 counties across upstate New York. I chatted with Bishop Howard Hubbard regarding his plans for the days and months ahead.  "One of the things I would like to do is be available to help out on weekends or weekdays in parish communities where there's not a priest available or to celebrate mass in nursing homes and jails or prisons."

Hubbard says several people have encouraged him to write, something he hasn't ruled out.  "Maybe with the refreshment of retirement I'll commit myself to view some of the things I've already written about and maybe expand upon that."

Scharfenberger was ordained a priest in 1973. He has held a number of parish and administrative positions in New York City, including episcopal vicar for Queens.  He will be formally installed as Bishop on April 10th.    "I think we need a perception of the church, that the church is a fun place to be, is a good place to be, is a happy place... in fact, it's not even a place. It's a community of people."

You can friend the Bishop-elect on Facebook.

Here is an extended raw audio clip recorded at the press conference.

Audio File

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How A Bishop Is Chosen

New Bishop for Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
Statement by Bishop Howard J Hubbard
Statement by Bishop-elect Edward B. Scharfenberger

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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