Msgr. John Graham, the pastor of the St. Raymond Church, has been named Vicar of the East Bronx.
Graham’s appointment is effective as of Sunday, April 1. He was appointed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Graham said. Graham replaces former Our Lady of Assumption pastor Msgr. Donald Dwyer, who has been reassigned to the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, N.Y.
“The role of the Vicar is to represent the Cardinal in a particular area,” Graham said. “If the Cardinal wants some issue attended to or if he wants information in a particular area or information about a particular priest or parish, the vicar would be the first person he would ask. It is like middle management. For the past eight years, I have been an active member of the vicariate and this has been good preparation.”
As east Bronx vicar, Graham will serve as liaison between Cardinal Dolan and 17 parishes, 13 schools and three high schools in an area that encompasses Catholic communities from Holy Cross Church at 1846 Soundview Avenue in Clason Point, to St. Clare of Assisi at 1918 Paulding Avenue in Morris Park, to St. Frances de Chantal at 2962 Harding Avenue in Throggs Neck, to St. Joan of Arch at 1372 Stratford Avenue, Graham stated.
Some of the most pressing issues of the vicarate are having adequate priest personnel, the financial stability of the parishes, and aging buildings, Graham stated. Education is also a particular concern.
“The development and the futures of Catholic elementary schools are what I think will be a challenge,” Graham said. “What can be done to strengthened our programs so that we have academic excellence and religious formation?”
The issue is of particular importance to the East Bronx Vicarate, because the area is relatively young, with a lot of families with children, Graham said.
The vicar deals with different aspects of a church community as needed, Graham stated.
“There would be times when you would meet the pastor or meet the parishioners, and other times where you have to deal with the parish as a whole,” Graham stated. “Then there are times when you would take all those dimensions and work and weave them together.”
Strengthen what the Catholic Church recognizes as the vocation of marriage is also going to be an important part of his work as east Bronx vicar, Graham said.
Graham is in his eighth year as pastor of St. Raymond’s Church, he said. He was ordained a priest in 1974 and taught at Cardinal Hayes High School from 1980 to 1990, before serving as principal from 1990 to 2003 and as president of the school during the 2003-04 school year. After he was ordained, he served at St. Martin of Tours Parish at 664 Grote Street from 1974 to 1980.