Brooklyn Boro

St. Charles Borromeo Parish installs Rev. William G. Smith as 13th Pastor

October 24, 2017 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bishop James Massa, at left, smiles as Deacon Edward Gaine (center, wearing white dalmatic) reads the official document of installation to the Rev. William G. Smith. Eagle photo by Francesca N. Tate
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Rev. William G. Smith was installed as the 13th pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church on Sunday, amid a joy-filled 11 a.m. liturgy. Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop James Massa preached the homily and officially presented Smith to parish leaders and the congregation. Saying that Smith exemplifies the role of pastor and teacher, Massa described the legacy of the parish’s name sake, St. Charles Borromeo, the 16th-century bishop of Milan, a cardinal and a drafter of the Catholic Church’s first Catechism.

In his sermon, Massa spoke of how the Milanese Archbishop Borromeo stayed with his people during a famine and plague epidemic that struck Italy in 1576. While many wealthy citizens — and clergy — fled Milan, Borromeo remained, using his own money to feed the people until it ran out, and petitioned the local governor to let him stay and continue ministering. Massa pointed to the sanctuary’s central stained-glass window, in which Borromeo is shown giving communion to the people. Massa pointed out that Borromeo was also an educator and reformer, born just 21 years after famed monk Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Catholic Church. Borromeo fought corruption in the church hierarchy and sought to end the practice of indulgence-selling — a form of simony. Borromeo believed that the Roman Catholic Church’s best defense against the spread of the Protestant Reformation was to reform from within and to restore integrity to the Church.

During his own remarks, Smith thanked both the congregation and, posthumously, Msgr. Charles E. Diviney, pastor here from 1959-78. Diviney mentored Smith in the early years of his ministry. One of Smith’s first actions upon arriving at St. Charles was to preside at a June 28 Mass in Diviney’s memory. The date marked Diviney’s 17th death anniversary.


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