A new pastor has taken the helm of St. Benedict Church.
Father Stephen Norton took over as pastor of the church after a farewell mass for Father Richard Smith on Saturday, October 2.
Fr. Norton’s installation mass will take place at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, October 10 and will be celebrated by one of its former pastors, Bishop Robert Brucato. After the mass there will be refreshments in Father Albert Hall.
Fr. Norton comes to the parish from St. Denis Church in Hopewell Junction, N.Y. where he also served as pastor. He is originally from Boston. He said that he was happy to be at the parish in Throggs Neck because he enjoys being part of a neighborhood, where he will have plenty of chances to interact with his parishioners outside of mass.
“I have two dogs which I walk through the community and a lot of people say hello to me,” Norton said. “I really like that. It is great to be part of a neighborhood like this again. I want to be seen by the parents of students at our school, and be able to interact with them.”
Norton said that the parish school was one of the reasons he took on this new assignment.
After graduating from Iona College, Norton became of member of the Christian Brothers and taught at All Hallows High School and Iona Prep for 20 years. After entering St. Joseph’s seminary and being ordained in 2001, Norton became principal, and later president, of Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, New York.
He said he will play a role in making the school even better, and in promoting it to the community.
“Without any hesitation at all, I can say we have a great school,” Norton said. “I want to make sure that everyone knows that’s the truth. All you have to do is spend a little time at the school to realize it. We have great programs and we need to get the message out there about our school.”
He said that his two main priorities as pastor will be to maintain and enhance the physical plant of the church, and to promote its rich history. He also pointed to their ongoing effort to have Terence Cardinal Cooke, who grew up in the parish and led the Archdiocese of New York from 1968 to 1983, canonized as a saint by the Vatican.
“If there is one area that I want to pay immediate attention to, it is the physical plant of the church,” Norton said. “We have a beautiful church and we want to make sure that it is clean and ready for when people come to attend services. I would also really like to see more focus on Cardinal Cooke, his goodness, and his link to the parish.”
“Here was a kid who grew up in St. Benedict parish like so many around here, and went on to become Cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York.”