By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As of this year, Brooklyn’s Catholic community has two cathedrals – the traditional seat of the bishop. Saint James, in downtown Brooklyn, has been a cathedral since the founding of the Brooklyn Diocese in 1853. But in February, in one of his last acts as pope, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI elevated Saint Joseph’s Church in Prospect Heights to the status of co-cathedral alongside St. James.
Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who had appointed the Rev. Msgr. Kieran Harrington, the diocese’s vicar of communications, to serve as the administrator of the St. Joseph five years ago, recently promoted him to be the rector. The bishop presided over a mass at St. Joseph on Sept. 15 to officially install Msgr. Harrington as the rector.
A rector is a religious leader who stands in as the representative of the bishop at a co-cathedral. The bishop is technically the pastor of a cathedral.
“I appointed Monsignor Harrington five years ago as administrator of St. Joseph’s. During that time, he worked with many different people to make sure the infrastructure of the church was upgraded, but as we all know, a church is not just brick and mortar. A church is about its people. And over the past five years, the parish has become vibrant and grown in no small part to Monsignor Harrington and his collaborators,” Bishop DiMarzio said.
“I am confident under his leadership, the co-cathedral will be at the heart of the development of the new Brooklyn,” the bishop added.
Before the elevation of St. Joseph’s to co-cathedral, St. James Cathedral Basilica was the only cathedral in the 160-year history of the diocese. But while St. James Cathedral was considered a cathedral from the moment the diocese was founded, it was believed that a new cathedral would be built to accommodate more parishioners. St. Joseph’s, which can accommodate 1,500 people, is one of the largest churches in the diocese. It is for this reason the bishop sought permission for it to be named a co-cathedral.
Msgr. Harrington serves as vicar for communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn. He also serves as the president and chairman of DeSales Media Group, a media company that includes NET NY, a cable television station; The Tablet, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s weekly newspaper; a technology division overseeing 21 websites; as well as a public relations office serving ecclesiastical needs.
He graduated cum laude from St. John’s University with a degree in Philosophy. He holds a Masters of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and a Masters of Business Administration from the New York University Stern School of Business.
He was ordained into the priesthood at Saint James Cathedral Basilica on June 2, 2001. Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to the rank of Papal Chaplain with the title of Reverend Monsignor on September 3, 2009.
The Diocese of Brooklyn, which also encompasses the borough of Queens, is the fifth largest diocese in the United States. It is the only entirely urban diocese in the country. The diocese serves 1.4 million Catholics in its 186 parishes.
Last year, over 17,000 baptisms, 8,000 confirmations, 10,000 First Communions, and 2,000 marriages took place in the diocese, according to officials. There are over 30,000 students in 97 Catholic schools and academies in the diocese, officials said.