Bishop Whalen’s Brothers: He ‘Always Had the Vocation’


After the Mass of Ordination of Bishops Dec. 10 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, CNY caught up with Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen’s two older brothers, Michael and Kevin, who were in a front pew.

“It’s a great honor,” Kevin Whalen said. “He’s worked very hard for it and I know he so earnestly deserves it.” As he was being ordained to the episcopacy, his brother, now a bishop, seemed “a natural,” Kevin added.

“Eddie has done so much for so many, it’s just really an honor to be here and to see it,” Michael Whalen said. “I just wish my parents were here,” he added of the late John and Margaret Whalen. “They’d be puffing like squabs,” Michael said with a smile.

Edmund appeared “relaxed, confident, deeply appreciative of the honor and aware of the responsibility” before him, throughout the rite, Michael said.

As he witnessed his brother being ordained, Michael said he thought of how Edmund, “always, even as a little boy, wanted to be a priest. We’d be out playing ball, and he’d be reading a catechism, or practicing” playing priest at a makeshift altar in his room. “He always had the call and he always had the vocation.”

Signature traits of Bishop Whalen, according to his oldest brother Michael, include possessing “the talent and the knack for relating to each person as an individual.”

That night, Michael planned to pray that his brother the bishop, who now has added responsibilities and duties, will “discharge them as we all know he will.”

Michael’s wife, Elizabeth, who was beside her husband in the pew, recalled the first time she met Edmund, Kevin and the brothers’ parents. She had accompanied Michael home from college to attend a wedding in the mid-1970s. “In the morning, when I got up, I met Eddie. Eddie was a high school student at that time at Farrell, and he was reading the New York Times. And I said to Mike, what grade is he in?”

—Christie L. Chicoine


Billy Joel’s Guitarist Knows Bishop Colacicco

Tommy Byrnes, lead guitarist for musician Billy Joel, has been a parishioner of St. Joseph-Immaculate Conception in Millbrook for about 25 years and has known Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Colacicco since he came to the parish as an administrator in 2014.

“We got to known him because my father-in-law used to take care of everything for the Knights of Columbus out of St. Joseph’s,” said Byrnes, who, with his family, attended the episcopal ordination.

“We got to meet him when he first came to the parish. We had him at the house for my in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary. So he’s been great for the parish, great for us. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer priest. We’ll miss him for sure.”

Byrnes said Bishop Colacicco instantly hit it off with parishioners. “He immediately took to everyone in the parish and it was as if we had known him for a lot longer than we have. He was very personable and very helpful with everybody. He was always open to anything anyone wanted to do.

“My wife works for Birthright and has speakers come to the parish hall to talk about the right to life movement. He really embraced that, and helped her along with that.”

—Dan Pietrafesa


Bishop Colacicco Goes the Distance

Sister Madeline Soto, O.B.T., told CNY after the Mass of Ordination of Bishops, “We’ve known Bishop Colacicco for many years now. He was our pastor in St. Columba parish in Hopewell Junction.”

Sister Madeline attended the rite with other women religious from St. Columba, as well as parishioners. “It’s been so grace-filled. We are thrilled and so overjoyed. He’s always down to earth, very loving toward the people.

“Bishop Colacicco, God bless you. We know that you will continue to be the holy shepherd that you have always been.”

Bob St. Germain, 76, a St. Joseph parishioner for 32 years, said of Bishop Colacicco: “I go to church every morning; he says Mass every morning. This is very emotional. He’s an incredible priest and an incredible man.”

St. Germain and his wife, Ann, have three daughters and nine grandchildren. He recalled a poignant moment with the new prelate last May. “My grandson (Asher, 5) was very ill, he had a hard time breathing. The ambulance came and they took him to the Vassar hospital in Poughkeepsie. He was there for six hours then he was airlifted to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital (in Valhalla). Msgr. Colacicco—then-monsignor—drove all the way down the next day and gave him a blessing; and right after he blessed him, his health completely turned around. We went home the next day.”

—Armando Machado