NEW YORK (CNS) — Retired Auxiliary Bishop Robert A. Brucato of New York, a former vicar general and chancellor of the archdiocese, died Nov. 7 at St. Joseph Hospital. He was 87.
During his years of ministry, Bishop Brucato also had been pastor of three parishes and served as a military chaplain for 22 years.
Details of his funeral Mass and burial have not been announced as of Thursday, Nov. 8.
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan announced the bishop’s death on Flocknote, a communications website that connects parishes. He asked the “family of the archdiocese” to join him “in thanking God for his life, especially his generous and faithful priesthood.”
“Pray as well that the powerful mercy of Jesus, in which our bishop had such trust, has ushered him into heaven,” the cardinal said.
At the time of Bishop Brucato’s retirement in 2007, he had served as vicar general since 1999. Ordained an auxiliary bishop for New York in 1997, he was vicar for pastoral guidance, 1997-1999, and chancellor, 1994-1997. In retirement, he lived at the John Cardinal O’Connor Clergy Residence.
Robert Anthony Brucato was born in New York Aug. 14, 1931. He was ordained a priest of the archdiocese in 1957 after studies at Cardinal Hayes High School and Cathedral College in New York; St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York; and the University of Our Lady of the Lake in San Antonio.
After three years of parish experience, he was an Air Force chaplain from 1960 to 1982. He served at 12 military installations around the world including the Arctic, Asia, Europe, the tropics and the Air Force Academy in Colorado.
In the New York Archdiocese, he was pastor of three parishes and was episcopal vicar for the East Bronx. He was named archdiocesan chancellor in 1994, a post he held until his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese.
On the death of Cardinal John J. O’Connor in May 2000, he was appointed apostolic administrator of the archdiocese by St. John Paul II and served in that capacity until the installation of Cardinal Edward M. Egan as archbishop in June 2000. Cardinal Egan reappointed him vicar general in one of his first appointments after his installation.
At the time of his retirement, Bishop Brucato told Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper, that he couldn’t point to one role he liked best in the diverse assignments he had throughout his priesthood.
“I have liked them all,” he said. “I think I have learned that where you work and live is not as important as with whom you work and live. I have found that the most desirable place can be miserable if the people with you are miserable, and what might appear to be the most miserable environment can be fun because of the people.”
At his episcopal ordination Aug. 25, 1997, Cardinal O’Connor called Bishop Brucato “a tremendous priest of the church of New York” who knew “every brick and stone, every building of the archdiocese.”
While most of his work as a bishop was in the New York Archdiocese, Bishop Brucato also served as a consultant to the Committee on Migration and the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
As a migration committee consultant, he was part of a delegation of U.S. bishops who visited Africa in November-December 2002 to study refugee conditions there and urge the United States to receive more refugees.
The following year, he was part of a three-bishop U.S. delegation that participated with African bishops in a service of reconciliation and forgiveness on the island of Goree, Senegal, long a holding depot for African slaves awaiting shipment to Europe and the Americas.