It wasn't easy for Bishop-elect Edward B. Scharfenberger's parents to keep news of his appointment quiet for a week until the Vatican made the official announcement Feb. 11.
"Women have difficulty keeping a secret," claimed the Bishop-elect's father, Edward P. Scharfenberger. "I said [to my wife], 'Elaine, please - talk about the weather, talk about anything, but you can't let it slip."
At a medical checkup during the waiting period, Mrs. Scharfenberger's blood pressure and heart rate measured "through the roof."
She was relieved to finally talk about her son's elevation from episcopal vicar of the Queens area of the Brooklyn Diocese to future bishop of the Albany Diocese.
"The family is overjoyed," she said. "I've called as many as I could today."
Surprise and gratitude
Mrs. Scharfenberger said she was "very surprised," then "very humbled, and I felt very grateful to the Lord. We are very proud, but we always say it's the Lord who conferred this upon us."
Bishop-elect Scharfenberger's family isn't surprised he's been named to such a high office, but they expected it to be in the Diocese of Brooklyn, where he's been a priest for 40 years. They also thought there would be another step first - perhaps an auxiliary bishop appointment.
"It was quite a jump," said Miriam Muse, one of his four siblings. "Pope Francis is shaking things up. [But] I did believe that my brother had the talents and the humility and the gifts for something very positive that he could contribute to the Church."
Lots to recommend
Family members rattle off the future bishop's strong suits: his fluency in five languages (and study of three others), multicultural appreciation (he's a world traveler who brings visiting foreign priests home to his parents' place for holidays), communication skills, sense of humor and aptitude for evangelization and problem-solving.
"He's always been a people person," Mrs. Muse said. "He's able to talk to anybody at any capacity. He's not in any way standoffish or aloof. He's wise with assigning people, being able to draw their talents. He's a good judge of character and ability."
Mrs. Scharfenberger added: "He has a good deal of perseverance. If he makes up his mind to do something, he will do it. He will be happy to meet with people and discuss problems."
Family members say a hallmark of their relative's episcopacy will be a healing touch.
"There's much hurt in the world today, and he's been pursuing that path," his father said. "Edward is a one-on-one person. When he preaches, he often leaves the pulpit and goes down the aisle."
A vocation was on Bishop-elect Scharfenberger's mind since childhood. He was an altar boy at age six in Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal parish in Ridgewood, answered phones in the rectory and played Mass with other children.
They also played airline: "He wanted to be a pilot, but he had glasses," Mrs. Muse chuckled.
But "there was never a day - at least he never told us - that he did not have in mind becoming a priest," Mr. Scharfenberger said.
The Bishop-elect's family knows the Diocese of Brooklyn will feel his loss, but as for his family, "We're all on the east coast," Mrs. Muse said. "We don't think twice about going up [to Albany]. The ride's going to be a lot more pleasant.
"He's more 'for the world' now," she continued. "But we're a very close family and we've always found a way to stay together."
Mr. Scharfenberger doesn't believe becoming a bishop will change his son. "He calls his mother every night," he said. "My litmus test for a good person is always, 'How do you treat your family?' There's one thing about Father Ed that we learned a long time ago. He always has to be busy. When Edward has something to do, he is at his best."
His family revealed that Bishop-elect Scharfenberger enjoys exercise, freshwater fishing, opera, law, languages and cooking.
Mrs. Muse said the news is "an honor for the family, but we're also very humbled and very blessed."
The same could be said for the man of the hour: "I just texted him this morning," his sister said. "He's asking for prayers."
Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014
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Yesterday March 23rd my wife and Iand the retired principal of St. Franceis in Bushwick bumped into the Bishop in Glendale. Our friend and I both know the Bishop she from her school and me from my days as the Chief Clerk at the Brooklyn Supreme Court where the Bishop were in each others company at either the Catholic Lawyers or Colombian Lawyers functions. One not is that the Bishop will now be part of the parish my wife and I attend in lake George at our country home on Lake Luzerne and as noted above anytime the Bishop can get hold of his fishing rod our home is right on Lake luzerne with good fishing, and a good home cooked Italian meal would be awaiting