Pope Francis Wednesday accepted the resignation of Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, appointing Brooklyn pastor Fr. Kevin J. Sweeney to be his successor as head of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey.
Serratelli has been bishop of Paterson since 2004. His resignation of the pastoral governance of the New Jersey diocese was accepted just days before his 76th birthday. Diocesan bishops are required by canon law to submit letters of resignation at age 75.
Sweeney, 50, who is the vicar forane of Brooklyn’s 8th deanery, will be Paterson’s eighth bishop. He is also pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Bishop Serratelli said in a video message April 15 he knows Catholics of Brooklyn will miss Sweeney’s “outreach to the poor, his wise counsel, and his good humor.”
Serratelli also said the announcement of Sweeney’s ordination and installation as bishop will be made as soon as possible.
The bishop-elect said in his own video message that he is looking forward to being able to visit the Diocese of Paterson as soon as it will be possible, and in the meantime is learning about the diocese and keeping everyone in his prayers.
Though the coronavirus pandemic keeps people from gathering at the moment, he said “we will be and have been united in prayer as the mystical body of Christ, the Church.”
Sweeney also said in his message: “I pledge myself to work together to always promote the dignity and value of every human life from the moment of conception.”
The bishop-elect has served in various roles for the diocesan vocations office over the years; since 2014 he has held the position of representative. Since 2010 he has also been on the board of seminary admissions.
In 2018, Sweeney wrote about his vocation story as a guest columnist in the Brooklyn diocesan newspaper, the Tablet.
He said in his more than 20 years as a priest, though there have been difficult moments and days he has “not had one moment of regret.”
Sweeney said one important influence on his vocation was his pastoral year at St. Agatha’s in Sunset Park in 1994 and 1995, when he worked alongside then-priests Bishop Paul Sanchez and Bishop Ray Chappetto.
Sweeney was born in Elmhurst, Queens in 1970 to Irish immigrant parents. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1997.
He served at several parishes in the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn and was the coordinator of the diocesan Irish apostolate from 1999-2001.