The Bishop Edward Scharfenberger era begins

Posted at: 04/10/2014 11:56 PM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - For anyone who grew up Roman Catholic in the Capital Region in the last forty years, you've never known a bishop other than Howard Hubbard. On Thursday night, the faithful were beginning to know their new bishop, Edward Scharfenberger, and man of them had a chance to do it face-to-face at a reception in his honor.

When Bishop Scharfenberger descended the steps at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday afternoon, his dual purpose was to continue a spiritual legacy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, but also to begin his own journey, one which few others have traveled.

"I feel all the good will, all the prayers, and all the hope," the new bishop said outside the cathedral, "I just ride that wave and we help one another out."

The uplifting wave continued at a reception in the bishop's honor at the Kitty Hart Theater Thursday evening, where well-wishers had a chance to offer their congratulations in person.

Former Assemblyman Jack McEneny says he doesn't expect much change from the new bishop because the outgoing bishop made many tough decisions before him.

"With the changing population and the demographics, it was Bishop Hubbard that merged parishes and closed schools," according to McEneny. "He did some of the very difficult things that are absolutely no-wins for any administration."

For now, Bishop Scharfenberger says his initial job will involve a lot of listening, but what about initiating change?

"That would depend upon what needs to be changed," he says, "Until I get to know the diocese better and the people, those things that I think will be working well and thepeople feel are going in the right direction, we certainly would keep."

Among the many family members in attendance for the ordination were Bishop Scharfenberger's parents, both of whom are in their 90s. His Father, also named Edward, thinks his son has the ideal characteristics and the perfect demeanor for the job.

"He relates well with people from different backgrounds and social levels," Mr. Scharfenberger, 94, says. "He was always that way."

Mister Scharfenberger says he expects his son to treat his flock with the same kindness and compassion with which he treats his parents, proudly mentioning that the bishop calls his mother every day.

Bishop Scharfenberger, meanwhile, says he has always  admired his parents, calling them wonderful role models, and one of the biggest blessings in his life.