Pope appoints new bishop of Diocese of Metuchen

N.J. native to serve as fifth bishop, leader of more than 640,000 area Catholics

8 Mar 2016                                                                                                         
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METUCHEN – The Most Rev. Paul G. Bootkoski, bishop of Metuchen, will celebrate a White Mass at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, 32 Elm Ave., Metuchen. All are welcome.
The Mass, named for the white coats often worn by those in healing professions, will honor health care professionals from Middlesex, Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren, the four counties served by the diocese, for their ministry of healing and compassion. Rev. Peter G. Suhaka, Catholic chaplain at Saint Peter's University Hospital, will serve as the homilist for the Mass.
In the Diocese of Metuchen, the Mass will be celebrated just days before World Day of the Sick, observed annually on Feb. 11.
Light refreshments and fellowship will follow Mass in the Cathedral Community Room. For more information, call (732) 562-1990 ext. 1629 or email respect.life@diometuchen.org.

Piscataway, N.J. – Tuesday, March 8, 2016 – Pope Francis today appointed New Jersey native Reverend Monsignor James F. Checchio, 49, to serve as the fifth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. He succeeds Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski, 75, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Metuchen has been accepted by Pope Francis.

Once installed, the newly appointed bishop will lead more than 640,000 Catholics in the four-county diocese comprised of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties. He will oversee 90 parishes, 26 Catholic schools, two Catholic cemeteries, Catholic Charities-Diocese of Metuchen, the diocesan-sponsored St. Peter’s University Hospital and the Catholic Center at Rutgers University.

Born in Camden and raised in Collingswood, Bishop-elect Checchio most recently served as rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome from January 2006 to January 2016, after serving as vice rector there for two and a half years.

A press conference with Bishop-elect Checchio will be held today Tuesday, March 8 at 11 a.m. at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, 146 Metlars Lane.

Bishop-elect Checchio will be ordained a bishop and installed formally in the Diocese of Metuchen on May 3, 2016. Until then, Bishop Bootkoski, who has been the Bishop of Metuchen since 2002, will oversee the diocese.

More information will be released as it becomes available. Please visit the Diocese of Metuchen’s website http://diometuchen.org and its official Facebook and Twitter pages for related information in the coming weeks.

While Bishop-elect Checchio was at the Pontifical North American College, 490 seminarians became priests and he oversaw the largest class sizes the college has seen since the late 1960s, with about 250 men enrolled each year for the past five consecutive years. In April 2013, the seminary broke ground for a new 10-story, 36,000-square-foot building to include additional classrooms, study areas, a chapel, and upgraded technology.

The College, founded in 1859, is a Roman Catholic educational institution that forms seminarians for priestly ministry for the dioceses of the United States and provides a residence for priests who are pursuing graduate studies or continuing formation. During his tenure, Bishop-elect Checchio was responsible for overseeing the overall operations of the seminary, including formation of seminarians, administration and development efforts.

Prior to that, he held various roles in the Diocese of Camden. Bishop-elect Checchio served as secretary to Bishop James T. McHugh, vice chancellor, director of communications, moderator of the curia, and episcopal vicar for administration of the diocese. He also served in the Tribunal and as a member of the College of Consultors, Presbyteral Council, Investment Committee and Diocesan Finance Council.

He served as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish, Blackwood, and assisted at St. Jude Parish, Blackwood; and summer parochial vicar at St. Peter Parish, Merchantville, and St. Peter Celestine Parish, Cherry Hill.

Bishop-elect Checchio received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He studied at North American College, Rome, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Camden, N.J. on June 20, 1992 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden.

He holds a Masters of Business Administration Degree from LaSalle University, Philadelphia; and Doctorate of Canon Law and Bachelor of Sacred Theology degrees from University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome.

Bishop-elect Checchio was appointed a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II in 2000, granting him the title of monsignor; and, was appointed a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, a papal honor bestowed on diocesan priests.

The clergy, religious and faithful of the diocese of Metuchen extend a warm welcome to Bishop-elect Checchio.