Francis John Mugavero (June 8, 1914 – July 12, 1991) was the Roman Catholic Bishop (later Bishop Emeritus) of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. Currently, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is one of the largest dioceses, with more than 1,556,575 Catholics in Kings and Queens counties.
Early life and ordination
Francis John Mugavero (pronounced Ma-GUV-a-ro) was born on June 8, 1914 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and grew up over his father's barber shop. He studyed at Cathedral College in Brooklyn and Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, L.I. and received a master's degree in social work from Fordham. He was ordained as a parish priest on May 18, 1940, at the age of 25. His consecrators were Archbishop Luigi Raimondi (Principal Consecrator), Archbishop Terence Cooke and Bishop John Joseph Boardman.
Mugavero's had a background in charity work rather than canon law. He headed Brooklyn's office of Catholic Charities before being appointed a bishop. On July 15, 1968, aged 54, he was appointed as the 5th (and first Italian-American) Bishop of Brooklyn, and was ordained bishop September 12, 1968. Bishop Mugavero was the first bishop of the diocese native to Brooklyn. The Diocese of Brooklyn is separate from the Archdiocese of New York, which encompasses the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Westchester and six other counties north of the city.
In 1971, Mugavero established the Catholic Migration Office to serve the needs of immigrants and refugees living in Brooklyn and Queens. The first Apostolates were established in 1972 to meet the unique needs of the Italian, Haitian, Polish, Korean, Croatian, and Spanish communities. He often called Brooklyn "the diocese of immigrants," and was proud that Mass was said there in 14 languages.
The Nehemiah concept was formally announced by Brooklyn’s Bishop Francis Mugavero and the East Brooklyn Churches at a press conference in June, 1982. Named for the biblical prophet who oversaw the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem, the plan is to build on the vast acres of vacant land in eastern Brooklyn and offer the homes to buyers with incomes between $20,000 and $40,000. By 1985 the Nehemiah project had produced 300 new row houses in Brownsville at an average cost of $51,000 and sold them to families with incomes averaging less than $25,000.
In 1986 Bishop Mugavero issued a declaration concerning the Bayside Movement, in which he stated, "I, the undersigned Diocesan Bishop of Brooklyn, in my role as the legitimate shepherd of this particular Church, wish to confirm the constant position of the Diocese of Brooklyn that a thorough investigation revealed that the alleged "visions of Bayside" completely lacked authenticity".
In 1987, Bishop Mugavero, established the Immaculate Conception Center at the site of the former Cathedral College. In addition to the Bishops Mugavero/Mulrooney Residences for priests and Cathedral Seminary Residence of the Immaculate Conception, the pastoral center serves as a retreat and conference center. It is home to the Diocesan Tribunal, Pastoral Institute, Institutional Services, Inc., and the Queens office of The Tablet. It also houses the Offices of Pastoral Planning, Family Life, Hispanic Ministry, Black Ministry, Respect Life and the Office of the Regional Bishop of Queens North as well as other agencies of the Diocese.
He was a founder of the Campaign for Human Development, an annual fund-raising drive for the poor.
Retirement and death
On February 20, 1990, aged 75, he retired as Bishop of Brooklyn. He was a priest for 51 years and a bishop for almost 23 years by the time of his death from heart failure at 77, on July 12, 1991, while vacationing in East Hampton, New York. He died with the title "bishop emeritus".
According the New York Times, he left a proud legacy, more compassionate and charitable than political.
The Bishop Francis J. Mugavero Center for Geriatric Care was later built in Brooklyn, New York in his honor.
The New York State Catholic Conference Council of Catholic Charities Directors has created the Bishop Mugavero Award which recognizes an individual who, in the spirit of late Bishop Francis Mugavero, has made a significant and sustained contribution to the work of charity and social justice on a statewide level.
Bishop Mugavero issued more than 20 pastoral letters strongly condemning abortion. He tended, however, to avoid public criticism of Catholic politicians who supported a right to abortion. He chose to meet such officeholders privately instead.
In February 1976 Bishop Mugavero issued a pastoral letter, "Sexuality - God's Gift", defending the legitimate rights of all people, including homosexuals. He said that homosexuals had been "subject to misunderstanding and at times unjust discrimination".
- Goldman, Ari L. "Francis J. Mugavero, 77, Is Dead; Was Bishop of Brooklyn 22 Years", New York Times obituary, July 13, 1991
- Mugavero ordination information, Catholic Hierarchy
- "History", Catholic Migration Services
- Kaseta, O.F.M. Cap, Peter. "Humble Beginnings", Bulletin, Province of Saint Mary, Volume 22, Number 2, February 1985, p. 36
- Wycliff, Don. "Bricks, Mortar, Hearts and Minds In East Brooklyn, Low-Income Housing Is No Longer a Dream", New York Times, August 27, 1985
- Mugavero, Bishop Francis. "Declaration Concerning the Bayside Movement", November 4, 1986
- "Immaculate Conception Center", The New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
- "A Warm and Gentle Bishop", New York Times, February 23, 1990
- Kotlarz, Amy. "Diocesan Catholic Charities director honored", Catholic Courier, March 19, 2013
- Integrity USA.org
- Diocese of Brooklyn website
- NY Times obituary
- Mugavero, Bishop Francis J. "Sexuality - God's Gift". February, 11, 1976
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Bryan Joseph McEntegart
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