Parishioners of a Throggs Neck church are thrilled that a distinguished clergyman is the new leader of their flock.
Msgr. John Graham, the East Bronx Vicar for the New York Archdiocese, has been placed in the role of pastor of St. Frances de Chantal as of Labor Day, Monday, September 5.
Msgr. Graham comes to the parish after serving 12 years as St. Raymond Church’s pastor, the maximum amount of time a pastor can remain at a single parish under Cardinal Dolan’s rules, Graham said.
“I finished my term at St. Raymond’s and I was eligible to move,” he said. “This place was open and ready for a pastor, and the Cardinal asked me to come here.”
Graham said that the parish needs some immediate attention as its 90th anniversary approaches.
“I think the pressing needs are to bring people back to the parish, to build up the school enrollment and to renovate and repair the physical plant,” said Graham.
Graham said that the parish community is looking forward to the future.
“It is a parish that needs building up as we look to our 90th anniversary,” said the monsignor, who added that he hopes to celebrate the religious societies at the house of worship during the anniversary.
The installation of Graham, seen as a church leader of the highest regard according to several sources with knowledge of the Catholic church, comes after problems with the St. Frances’ previous pastor.
In December 2015 the previous pastor, Fr. Peter Miqueli, resigned after a lawsuit was filed by some members of the parish and St. Frances Cabrini in Manhattan alleging that Miqueli allegedly stole money and engaged in sexually deviant acts with a male prostitute.
Graham declined to take any time off between assignments and came to the parish immediately for the start of the school year, said Jack Lynch, a member of a non-sanctioned church group, the Concerned Parishioners of St. Frances, who raised issues regarding the former pastor.
Lynch lavished praise on the new pastor, and said that the archdiocese made a wise decision sending Graham to St. Frances.
“I think it is fantastic,” said Lynch of the development. “He seems like a very able person and he is approaching everything in the right way; we are very happy to have him.”
Graham has ‘hit the ground running’ and ‘everything is positive,’ said Lynch.
“Now we hope that everyone who has been disillusioned in the past will come back to their parish…and we can get our parish back to the way it used to be,” said Lynch.
Lynch said that the group that had once opposed the former pastor is 100% behind Graham.
Graham said he grew up in Van Nest, and was ordained in 1974. He was a teacher, principal and president at Cardinal Hayes High School, and served at St. Martin of Tours.