|Pastor Among Priests Receives Papal Honors|
Administrator of Senior Priest Residence Named Monsignor
ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, June 5, 2007 — Pope Benedict XVI conferred the papal honor of monsignor on Father Thomas F. Mulvanerty, diocesan vicar for senior priests and administrator of the St. Pius X Residence in Uniondale, N.Y. Msgr. Mulvanerty was one of two monsignors to be named Prelate of Honor, which is bestowed upon priests holding significant canonical offices or having more advanced years. The title is distinguished by red piping and buttons on a black cassock, and a purple sash.
Msgr. Mulvanerty also assists at Holy Name of Jesus parish, Woodbury, N.Y., on a regular basis on weekends.
“I’m humbled by this affirmation,” Msgr. Mulvanerty said. “I’m very appreciative of the honor and I’m very grateful.”
Msgr. Mulvanerty, a diocesan priest for the past 28 years, was a Franciscan Brother for 10 years before entering the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, N.Y. He joined the brothers during his senior year at St. Francis College, Brooklyn, N.Y. He earned a master’s degree in theology from LaSalle College, Philadelphia, and from the seminary.
While a Franciscan Brother, Msgr. Mulvanerty taught religion at elementary schools and high schools, including St. Anthony High School, formerly in Smithtown.
“I felt a real call to be a priest, but I recognized that I could not do it among them,” Msgr. Mulvanerty said of his decision to leave the brotherhood and enter the priesthood. “There were priests that I met over the years that really inspired me.”
Ordained in 1979, Msgr. Mulvanerty was first assigned to St. Boniface Martyr parish, Sea Cliff, N.Y., and then to St. Joseph parish, Garden City, N.Y., in 1985. He was named pastor of Church of the Resurrection parish, Farmingville, N.Y., in 1989.
“Father Tom has been an excellent pastor, guiding Resurrection through challenging times,” said the Most Reverend Emil Wcela, retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. They first met when Bishop Wcela was on the faculty at the seminary and Msgr. Mulvanerty was a student. The two priests served together at St. Joseph as pastor and associate pastor, respectively. Bishop Wcela founded Church of the Resurrection, but Msgr. Mulvanerty succeeded him as pastor after one year because of Bishop Wcela’s appointment to auxiliary bishop.
“He is extremely thoughtful and considerate,” Bishop Wcela said. “He cares about the people he works with, and for, and goes out of his way to support, encourage and, sometimes in a good way, to challenge them.”
Msgr. Mulvanerty said the transition from brother to priest was a tough one.
“There was a real loss of the community aspect,” he said. “It was very comfortable living with [the Brothers] and working with them. I needed to develop a whole new core of friendships.”
In 1998, Msgr. Mulvanerty was named director of the diocesan office of priestly life and ministry. In 2001, he was named vicar for senior priests and vicar for priestly concerns at St. Pius X. He continued to hold both positions until 2005, when he began to devote all his time to the residence.
Currently, Msgr. Mulvanerty is responsible for ensuring the safety and care of about 114 retired priests. He and Franciscan Brother Patrick Murphy act as liaisons between Bishop Murphy and senior priests. They provide physical, psychological and spiritual support for residents through home health aides, 20 cooked meals each week, housekeeping, transportation to doctor appointments, daily Mass, weekly Holy Hour, confessions, retreats and a regular newsletter. The duo is responsible for easing the transition from a retirement home to an assisted living facility.
“He’s always on call,” Brother Murphy said. “It’s a very demanding ministry, and he does it exceptionally well.”
Brother Murphy said when a staff member has a special occasion, Msgr. Mulvanerty always mentions them in prayer.
“I see myself as a pastor among our priests,” Msgr. Mulvanerty said. “They are really my parishioners.”
He makes sure cakes and cards abound for staff birthdays, Brother Murphy said. He maintains long-term relationships with parishioners from all assignments and often gets called back for marriages, baptisms and funerals.
“As a priest, Tom Mulvanerty is a very good brother,” said Msgr. Paul Rahilly, pastor of St. Joachim, Cedarhurst. Msgr. Rahilly was also a Franciscan Brother (the two actually lived together) and was also recently named Prelate of Honor. “He is a man of great charity and sacrifice. He fights a very good battle for the priests.”
Editor’s Note: Photo Courtesy of The Long Island Catholic/Greg Shemitz
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