Diocese of Rockville Centre

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, June 13, 2007—Pope Benedict XVI conferred the papal honor of monsignor on Father Ralph R. Sommer, pastor at St. Brigid parish, Westbury, N.Y.

“I was honored to be recognized in this way,” Msgr. Sommer said in response to the announcement. “The parishioners are very thrilled. People come up and congratulate me all the time.”

Born in Flushing, N.Y., Msgr. Sommer attended St. Anne School, Garden City, N.Y., and St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary, then in Uniondale, N.Y. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Adelphi University, Garden City, N.Y., and a Master of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington, N.Y. As a seminarian, he studied Spanish and co–produced a television program at Telecare.

“I’ve been interested in media my whole life,” said Msgr. Sommer, who was at one time the editor of Adelphi University’s student newspaper, a stringer for The New York Times and a reporter for a local community newspaper. He has used his skills with video and multi-media in parish ministry and he currently uses his skills to maintain the Web site for St. Brigid parish: www.saintbrigid.net.

Ordained into the priesthood May 14, 1983, his first assignment was to Our Holy Redeemer parish, Freeport, N.Y., followed by St. Thomas More parish, Hauppauge, N.Y. In 1997, Msgr. Sommer was named diocesan coordinator of Renew 2000, a program encouraging small groups to gather and reflect on faith and Scripture.

For the past six years, Msgr. Sommer has been pastor at St. Brigid parish, where Spanish, Italian and Creole Masses are celebrated and the congregation comprises 6000 families of diverse nationalities.

“You can see the whole Church,” Msgr. Sommer said of the parishioners. “People that are visitors come in and immediately feel that they belong. I really get the sense of having a taste of heaven before heaven because everybody’s here.”

Editor’s Note: Photo Courtesy of The Long Island Catholic/Greg Shemitz

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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
Celebrating its Golden Jubilee, the Diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) was formed in 1957 and covers 1,198 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 2.8 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 18,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 19,000 first communions and 4,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are approximately 22,000 students in Catholic elementary schools; 13,000 in secondary schools and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 69 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. There are also 120,189 total students in religious education. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 59,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. (4/20/07)

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Sean P. Dolan
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