Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Diocese of Albany

Diœcesis Albanensis
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Panorama 1.jpg
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
CoA Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.svg
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryCounties of Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, southern Herkimer, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington
Ecclesiastical provinceNew York
Headquarters40 North Main Avenue
Albany, New York
Area10,419 sq mi (26,990 km2)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of December 2012)
330,000 (23.7%)
Parishes129 (with 4 apostolates)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedApril 23, 1847; 175 years ago (1847-04-23) by Pope Pius IX
CathedralCathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Patron saintSt. Mary
Current leadership
BishopEdward Bernard Scharfenberger
Metropolitan ArchbishopTimothy M. Dolan
Bishops emeritusHoward James Hubbard
Diocese of Albany map 1.png
Bishop of Albany
Edward Bernard Scharfenberger
Ecclesiastical provinceArchdiocese of New York
First holderJohn McCloskey
EstablishedApril 23, 1847; 175 years ago (1847-04-23)
DioceseDiocese of Albany
CathedralCathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Albany, New York)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany (Latin: Diœcesis Albanensis) covers 13 counties in Eastern New York (Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington Counties), including a portion of a 14th county (southern Herkimer County, New York). Its Mother Church is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the city of Albany.


When St. Mary's Church was formally established in downtown Albany in 1796, it was the only Catholic church upstate and the second Catholic church in the state, after St. Peter's in New York. The parish was part of the Diocese of Baltimore,[1] until 1808 when the Diocese of New York was erected.

A black and white photograph of a man with short dark hair wearing a dark buttoned garment around his beck and upper chess with a cross. Below it his lap and robes are visible.
John McCloskey, first Bishop of Albany

In 1817, Irish immigrants began coming to Albany to build the Erie Canal. The industry that grew around the canal terminus attracted even more immigrants, and the Catholics among them began settling not just in Albany but elsewhere in the Capital District and Mohawk Valley, establishing new churches.[2] Immigration from Ireland rose even more in the 1840s due to the Great Famine. By 1847, the Catholic Church and its congregations were well entrenched in Albany and the other cities of the region, and Pope Pius IX granted requests to establish the Diocese of Albany.[2][3] John McCloskey, later Archbishop of New York, was installed as the first bishop of Albany in 1847, with St. Mary's as his procathedral.[4] At that time, the diocese covered 30,000 square miles (78,000 km2), containing 60,000 Catholics, 25 churches, 34 priests, 2 orphanages, and 2 free schools.[5]

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was dedicated in 1852, and it opened for services thereafter.[4] On the 50th anniversary of the cathedral's opening, it was formally consecrated by Bishop Thomas Burke.[4]

McCloskey was succeeded by his vicar general, John J. Conroy who increased the number of priests in the diocese, securing the services of the Augustinians and the Conventual Franciscans. His successor, Francis McNeirny secured the services of the Dominican Tertiaries, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and Redemptorist Fathers for the diocese.[5]

Bishop Thomas Cusack established Catholic Charities in the diocese.[6] Edmund Gibbons established The College of Saint Rose, Siena College, Mater Christi Seminary, 22 high schools, 82 grade schools, and the diocesan newspaper, The Evangelist.[6] William Scully headed the New York State Catholic Welfare Committee and the Catholic Charities division of the National Catholic Welfare Council.[7]

Howard Hubbard became Bishop of Albany in 1977. Hubbard is the first native of the diocese to hold that position. His interest in ecumenism led to the first-ever Palm Sunday service of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, held at the cathedral in 1986. At the service, called "From Fear to Friendship" and attended by approximately 1,200 guests, both Christian and Jewish,[8] Hubbard "expressed contrition and remorse for the centuries of anti-Jewish hostility promulgated under the Church's auspices".[9] Portal, a sculpture that stands just west of the building, commemorates the event.[4][8]

The diocese of Albany has given priests the permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass since 1999. In June 2019, the diocese celebrated the 20th anniversary of the extraordinary form mass in the Albany diocese at a mass at St. Mary's Church.[10][11]

As of December 2016, there were 350,000 Catholics in the diocese.[12]

In September 2019, people affiliated with the now-closed St. Clare's Hospital in Schenectady, New York sued the Diocese, alleging that their pensions had gone unpaid.[13]

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception[edit]

At the first retreat he presided over, Bishop John McCloskey persuaded the assembled priests to pledge over five thousand dollars as the seed of a building fund.[14] He commissioned Patrick Keely, an Irish immigrant himself, to design the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.[2] Over 10,000 watched on a rainy July day in 1848 as the church's cornerstone was laid. The final construction cost was $250,000 ($8.14 million in modern dollars[15]). The cathedral was dedicated in 1852, and it opened for services thereafter.[4][better source needed]

Small stone statuary, mounted on a wall, depicting the crucifixion of Jesus in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Station of the Cross XI in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

By 1858, the money was available to add a spire. The north tower was completed in 1862. Its 210-foot (64 m) height made it the city's tallest building for many years. Bells cast at the Meneely Bell Foundry in nearby West Troy (today Watervliet) were hung in the belfry and rung for the first time on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1862. The diocese was able to build the south tower's spire in 1888 and, four years later, the apse and sacristies.[4] In 1902, on the 50th anniversary of the cathedral's opening, it was formally consecrated by Bishop Thomas Burke.[4]

In the 1920s, New York elected a Catholic, Al Smith, governor, the first one to be elected to that position in the history of the state. Living in the governor's mansion next door, he became a regular parishioner at the cathedral. In 1928, the year Smith ran unsuccessfully for president, his daughter Catherine was married in the cathedral.[4]

Following years of deterioration, the Cathedral underwent a restoration process in the 21st century.[16] After $19 million total had been spent, the cathedral was reopened in 2010 and rededicated on its 158th anniversary later that year. A thousand people attended the Mass celebrated by Hubbard along with his New York counterpart, Timothy Dolan, and Dolan's predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan. Many who attended were impressed with the restoration, particularly the return of the original paint.[17]

Clergy abuse scandal[edit]

In 2004, the Diocese of Albany reported that 19 priests had committed acts of sexual abuse in the past 53 years, and that investigations were pending into allegations involving 10 current and former priests.[18] In February 2004, Bishop Hubbard was accused of having engaged in homosexual activity with two different men in the 1970s.[18] Hubbard denied the accusations and asserted that he had never broken his vow of celibacy.[18] At the request of the Diocese of Albany, the accusations against Hubbard were investigated by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White.[18] In June 2004, White released a 200-page report stating that she had found no credible evidence to support the accusations against Hubbard.[19]

On March 19, 2011, Bishop Howard Hubbard placed three retired priests on administrative leave and removed another from the ministry after receiving allegations of child sexual abuse.[20] That same year, the Diocese of Albany created the Independent Mediation Assistance Program; this program allowed persons who were abused by diocesan priests or employees as minors to request and obtain financial assistance.[21][22] Hubbard later acknowledged that the past practice of the Diocese was to send clergy offenders for treatment and counselling in privacy, rather than to involve the criminal justice system; he expressed regret for that practice.[23]

On February 14, 2019, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act. This law created a one-year lookback period in which civil lawsuits could be filed based on previously time-barred claims of child sex abuse.[24] In August 2019, numerous sex abuse lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Albany.[25] Among those accused in the lawsuits was the retired Bishop Hubbard, who took a leave of absence from active ministry in August 2019 shortly after the lawsuits were made public; Hubbard has denied the allegations against him.[26]

By March 2020, roughly 80 priests who served in the Diocese of Albany had been accused of committing acts of sex abuse.[27] On May 8, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill extending the lookback period contained in the Child Victims Act to January 14, 2021.[28] In June 2020, it was revealed that 52 new sex abuse lawsuits had been filed against the Diocese of Albany.[29]

Priest shortage[edit]

In 1960, there were more than 400 priests in the diocese. In 2016, for the first time in history, there were more retired (90) than active (85) priests in the diocese.[12] In 2021, in the northern part of the diocese, one priest was pastor of 12 parishes.[30]


As of May 2021, there were 126 parishes in the Diocese of Albany.[31]

Territorial losses[edit]

Date Reason
15 February 1872 to form the Diocese of Ogdensburg[32][better source needed]
26 November 1886 to form the Diocese of Syracuse[32][better source needed]


Bishops of Albany[edit]

  1. John McCloskey (1847-1864), appointed Coadjutor Bishop of New York and subsequently succeeded to see (elevated to Cardinal in 1875)
  2. John J. Conroy (1865-1877)
  3. Francis McNeirny (1877-1894; coadjutor bishop 1871-1877)
  4. Thomas Martin Aloysius Burke (1894-1915)
  5. Thomas Cusack (1915-1918)
  6. Edmund Gibbons (1919-1954)
  7. William Scully (1954-1969; coadjutor bishop 1945-1954)
  8. Edwin Broderick (1969-1976)
  9. Howard J. Hubbard (1977-2014)
  10. Edward Bernard Scharfenberger (2014–present)[33]

Former auxiliary bishop[edit]

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops[edit]

During their terms as bishops of Albany, the first five named were accorded the title "Right Reverend" because the American church was still considered a province. From Bishop Gibbons on, they have been entitled "Most Reverend". John McCloskey was "Most Reverend" after his move to New York, where he later became "His Eminence". Six of Albany's deceased Bishops are buried in a crypt beneath the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.[34] John McCloskey is interred beneath St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York,[35] and Bishop Broderick is buried in a family plot in Westchester County.[36]


Diocesan Secondary Schools
School Location Grades 2019-2020 Enrollment 2020-2021 Enrollment 2021-2022 Enrollment
Catholic Central School Latham, NY PK-12
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons Schenectady, NY 6-12 232 198 201
Saratoga Central Catholic High School Saratoga Springs, NY 6-12 193 228 202
Total 806 787 727

Enrollment data for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school year was obtained from New York State Department of Education Non-Public Enrollment.[37] Enrollment data for the 2021-2022 school year was obtained from the New York State COVID-19 School Report.[38]

*In November 2021, the Diocese of Albany announced that Catholic Central High School would close its Troy, NY campus and merge with St. Ambrose School in Latham, NY, creating a K-12 regional campus at the St. Ambrose location.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Church History". St. Mary's Church. 1999. Archived from the original on July 18, 2013. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Ralph, Elizabeth K. (1976-06-08). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception". Archived from the original on 2011-12-10. Retrieved 2011-07-30. See also: Accompanying seven photos, exterior and interior, 1976
  3. ^ Greenberg, Brian (1985). Worker and Community: Response to Industrialization in a Nineteenth Century American City, Albany, New York, 1850-1884. State University of New York Press. pp. 129–30. ISBN 9780887060465. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Pape, The Rev. William F. (2012). "Within these Sacred Walls". Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Walsh, John. "Albany." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. October 4, 2015
  6. ^ a b "Past Bishops". Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
  7. ^ "A Builder Bishop Goes To Work". The Evangelist.
  8. ^ a b Rosenberger, Gary (31 January 1989). "Catholics, Jews Raising $30,000 for Sculpture". Schenectady Gazette. p. 9. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  9. ^ Bloom, Bernard. "Our Neighbors' Faith: Chronicling 40 years of interfaith amity" (PDF). The Evangelist. Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  10. ^ DiPoppo, Gregory (June 18, 2019). "20th Anniversary Celebration of the EF in the Diocese of Albany". New Liturgical Movement. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  11. ^ Agnew, Joni (July 12, 2019). "Latin Mass inspires with its beauty". Times Union. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Grondahl, Paul (December 22, 2016). "More retired than active priests historic first in Albany diocese". Times Union (Albany). Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  13. ^ Rulison, Larry (September 10, 2019). "Former St. Clare's workers sue Diocese of Albany over failed pension". Times Union (Albany). Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  14. ^ Farley, John (1918). The life of John, Cardinal McCloskey: First Prince of the Church in America, 1810-1885. Longmans, Green & Co. pp. 174–78.
  15. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  16. ^ Grondahl, Paul (November 30, 2009). "Renovation a revelation". Times Union. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  17. ^ Waldman, Scott (November 21, 2010). "Showing off makeover of spiritual home". Times Union. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c d McGrath, Darryl (March 14, 2004). "In Albany, sexual accusations raise a bishop's high profile". Boston Globe.
  19. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (June 25, 2004). "Report Clears Albany Bishop In Sexual Misconduct Inquiry" – via
  20. ^ "Retired priest removed, 3 on leave". Times Union. 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
  21. ^ Lyons, Brendan J. (March 28, 2018). "Albany diocese urged to form new victim compensation plan". Times Union.
  22. ^ Zangla, Ariel. "Pain remains for priest who says he was abused as a child". Daily Freeman.
  23. ^ "Bishop: Albany diocese covered up priest abuse for decades". Independent. July 31, 2021.
  24. ^ Joseph, Elizabeth (February 14, 2019). "'This is society's way of saying we are sorry,' New York Governor tells survivors of sex abuse before signing Child Victims Act into law". CNN.
  25. ^ Levulis, Jim (August 14, 2019). "Albany Diocese Among Those Cited In Abuse Lawsuits As Hubbard Is Named". WAMC. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  26. ^ Maher, Jake (August 14, 2019). "Retired Bishop Goes on Leave Two Days After Sex-Abuse Lawsuit Filed". Newsweek. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  27. ^ Orchard, Jackie. "Albany Diocese Considers Uncertain Future During Siena Panel". Retrieved Jul 1, 2020.
  28. ^ Pozarycki, Robert (May 8, 2020). "Time limit extended for sex abuse victims to file claims under New York Child Victims Act". amNewYork. Retrieved Jul 1, 2020.
  29. ^ John, Cropley (June 15, 2020). "52 new suits against Albany Diocese allege sex abuse by priests, nuns".
  30. ^ Matvey, Mike (July 22, 2021). "By The Dozen". The Evangelist. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  31. ^ Crowe, Kenneth (May 20, 2021). "Albany Catholic bishop restores obligation to attend Mass in person". Times Union.
  32. ^ a b "Diocese of Albany". Catholic Hierarchy. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  33. ^ Wilkin, Jeff (April 11, 2014). "Scharfenberger becomes 10th bishop of Albany diocese".
  34. ^ Malette, Matt. "Albany Archives: Buried Below the Cathedral". Charter Communications. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  35. ^ "Cardinal John McCloskey (1810-1885)". Find A Grave. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Rev. Edward Bernard Broderick (1917-2006)". Find A Grave. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  37. ^ "NYSED:IRS:NonPublic School Enrollment and Staff". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  38. ^ "School Report". Retrieved 2020-10-05.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°39′06″N 73°45′16″W / 42.65167°N 73.75444°W / 42.65167; -73.75444