ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. — Parishioners of St. Agnes Cathedral are accustomed to the presence of bishops, but it was special April 19 when their former rector, the newly ordained Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, returned to celebrate Mass.
Bishop Guglielmone, who ministered on Long Island for more than 30 years, was ordained as the bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., March 25. At the parish’s regular 11 a.m. Mass, people filled the cathedral to congratulate and welcome him back for a quick visit.
As he processed in, most of the congregation saw Bishop Guglielmone with full bishop’s regalia for the first time, including a crosier that once belonged to Bishop John McGann, and a blue and white miter.
“I even learned how to wear the hat,” he quipped as he put the miter back on his head at the end of Mass.
Bishop William Murphy, along with Bishop Thomas Daily, retired bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Peter Libasci, diocesan vicar for the eastern vicariate, and more than a dozen priests and several deacons processed into the cathedral with Bishop Guglielmone, who was the main celebrant and homilist for the Mass.
“Robert, you have been a very great grace to our church,” Bishop Murphy said in remarks at the end of Mass. He added that he was grateful to God and to Bishop Guglielmone for the generosity of accepting the ministry to the people of Charleston.
Bishop Murphy’s words brought the congregation to their feet with sustained applause.
“He came here as ‘Father Bob’ and he comes back now as ‘His Excellency,’ ” said Thomas Bucaria, committee chairman for St. Agnes Scout Troop 163, at the reception afterward in the parish hall. A score of Boy Scouts and adult leaders attended the Mass, and Bucaria noted Bishop Guglielmone’s longtime activism in Scouting.
Edwin Lambert, Grand Knight of the St. Agnes Council of the Knights of Columbus, praised Bishop Guglielmone as “a true friend to the Knights.” At the reception, the council presented a certificate of appreciation, a papal flag and a U.S. flag to the bishop.
“It’s great that Bishop Guglielmone could come back here for one last hurrah,” said Randell Bozzello, an intern in the parish religious education office.
“I was sad when I found out he was leaving,” said Thomas Palazzola, a Star Scout. “He is one of the greatest priests we’ve ever had. He was very involved with the parish and his homilies were very interesting.
“But I’m happy for him because he is going to be the bishop for an entire state,” he added. The diocese of Charleston encompasses all of South Carolina.
“I like his new blue hat,” noted Maggie Kelly, 8. Her mother, Patricia, explained that at Maggie’s request they came to Mass twice that day. They had attended the church’s family Mass earlier.
“She wanted to see Bishop Guglielmone,” who used to visit the students at St. Agnes School and speak to the children during family Mass, Mrs. Kelly said.
As he preached, Bishop Guglielmone asked Ryan McAvoy, one of the Scouts, to wear a blindfold to help the bishop demonstrate his point about believing without seeing. The Gospel told the story of Thomas, the apostle who did not believe that Jesus was risen until he saw him with his own eyes.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Murphy told the congregation about his visit to Charleston for Bishop Guglielmone’s ordination March 25. “We’re all Episcopalians,” some women at a shop told Bishop Murphy, “but we already love him.”
Bishop Guglielmone thanked Bishop Murphy for all his support and the people of St. Agnes for making his time at St. Agnes joyful.
As he chatted outside the cathedral after Mass and at the reception, many people asked for his prayers.
Bishop Guglielmone assured one family that he would keep them in his prayers, and added: “You keep me in yours.”