The community had its first chance to “meet” the ninth Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester this morning.
Pope Francis has named Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, who has been the Bishop of Vermont since 2005, the ninth bishop of the Rochester diocese. The diocese covers a 12-county region, including Monroe County, in central and western New York.
At a press conference this morning, Wednesday, Nov. 6, Bishop Matano talked about blessing a sugar farm in Vermont.
“Was it all idyllic? No,” he answered, noting that he also dealt with “the sexual abuse crisis ... and it has been a very painful time.”
Bishop Matano said his first priority will be “to bring people back to Mass.”
Speaking directly to those who may no longer attend church, he said, “If you’re not practicing your faith, please come home; we miss you.”
Bishop Matano’s formal installation will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 3, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester.
He admitted that today was “the first time — and the longest — he has been in Rochester,” and about himself, he said, “What you see is what you get ... I try to be respectful of people and give a good example.”
Bishop Matano was joined at this morning’s press conference by Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark, who said he will be happy to provide whatever assistance he can, but noted, “He (Matano) is my Bishop now.”
Bishop Matano was born in Providence, R.I., on Sept. 15, 1946. He attended St. Ann Elementary School and LaSalle Academy in Providence before enrolling in Our Lady of Providence Seminary College in Warwick, R.I. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy.
He was ordained a priest on Dec. 17, 1971, at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he was awarded a licentiate in sacred theology in 1972 and a doctorate in canon law in 1983.
Bishop Matano served as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Johnston, R.I., from 1972-73. He also was a faculty member of Our Lady of Providence Seminary High School in Providence from 1972-77. In 1977, he was named diocesan director of Priests' Personnel. In 1980, he also served as assistant chancellor for the Diocese of Providence.
Between 1980 and 1983, Bishop Matano pursued graduate studies in Rome, after which he returned to the Diocese of Providence, where he served as vicar for administration and cochancellor until 1991.
He served as secretary to the apostolic nuncio at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., from 1991-92. He then returned to the Diocese of Providence, where he served as vicar general and moderator of the curia until 1997. He was appointed pastor of St. Sebastian Parish in Providence until 2000.
The bishop also was a special lecturer in the undergraduate and graduate departments of theology at Providence College of the Dominican Fathers from 1995-2000.
He was ordained as coadjutor Bishop of Burlington on April 19, 2005. He took over full governance of the diocese Nov. 9, 2005.
Bishop Matano was named Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1985 and received recognition from the Holy Father again in 1993 when he was named Prothonotary Apostolic.
“I never asked for any position; I always accepted what was given me,” Bishop Matano said this morning.
Humble and witty at today’s event, Bishop Matano added, “I don’t consider myself as one who has the answers to every problem, whether it be Rochester or elsewhere.”
He did later add, “Charity is what must guide everything ... We have become too divisive — in society and in the church.”
Matano succeeds Bishop Emeritus Clark, who led the Rochester diocese for 33 years before retiring in July 2012.
The Rochester diocese has about 300,000 worshippers in more than 100 parishes from Rochester to the Pennsylvania border, including the Finger Lakes region.
Bishops of the Diocese of Rochester, prior to Clark, have been Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid, 1868 - 1909; Bishop Thomas Francis Hickey, 1909 - 1928; Bishop John Francis O’Hern, 1928 - 1933; Archbishop (later Cardinal) Edward Mooney, 1933 -1937; Bishop James E. Kearney, 1937 - 1966; Bishop (later Archbishop) Fulton J. Sheen, 1966 - 1969; Bishop Joseph Lloyd Hogan, 1969 -1978.
Bishop Matano quoted Bishop Sheen — “Life is worth living” — to close this morning’s press conference.