Baltimore clergy who know Bishop W. Francis Malooly well describe the longtime western vicar as a deeply committed priest who possesses a unique combination of keen administrative skills and a generous pastoral presence.
“He’s always been a very steady person with a great sense of joy and a desire to be of service,” said Monsignor Joseph Luca, pastor of St. Louis in Clarksville. “He goes out of his way and treats everyone with great kindness.”
Monsignor Luca, who has known Bishop Malooly for 45 years and was ordained in the same class, said his friend “cares deeply about the church and uses his role as a bishop to support his priests and pastors.”
“He’s always been the person who you could pick up the phone and call to get an honest answer and a swift response,” Monsignor Luca said.
Monsignor Lloyd Aiken, pastor of Sacred Heart in Glyndon, described Bishop Malooly as a “very approachable” leader.
“He never used his office as a wedge between people,” said Monsignor Aiken, who was also ordained in the same year as Bishop Malooly.
“He used it in service, not simply as a bishop but as a priest,” Monsignor Aiken said. “He always acts in a Christ-like manner.”
Pastors in the western part of the archdiocese always felt they had an advocate at the Catholic Center for their region, according to Monsignor Arthur Valenzano, pastor of St. John in Westminster.
“He was very attuned to our needs,” said Monsignor Valenzano. Bishop Malooly is “very calm under pressure” and solidly grounded in his spirituality, according to Monsignor Valenzano.
“He gives you confidence that we’ll deal with whatever issue we’re facing,” he said.
Parishioners in the far-western corner of the archdiocese have a great appreciation for Bishop Malooly’s willingness to travel to meet with them and be present for liturgical celebrations, according to Father Donald Parson, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle in Oakland. The bishop put many miles on his car traveling to every part of his vicariate.
“They absolutely love it when the bishop comes to town,” Father Parson said. “It’s a big deal. The people love him. He’s been a great help to all the priests and people in our area.”
Listening is one of Bishop Malooly’s greatest attributes, according to Father Parson.
“You have to listen before you make decisions about things,” said Father Parson, noting that the bishop also displays an “ecumenical bent” that helps him get along well with believers of other religious denominations.
Father James Kurtz, O.F.M. Cap, pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul in Cumberland, noted that Bishop Malooly was always interested in the people of Western Maryland and visited the area often – even when he had many other duties in Baltimore.
“People really identified with him,” he said. “When he was talking to you, he was genuinely interested in you – like you were the only one at that time.”
The pastor said Bishop Malooly’s absence will be a “great void.”
Monsignor Valenzano said priests are delighted that Bishop Malooly’s leadership is being recognized by Pope Benedict XVI with an appointment to head his own diocese.
“But it’s also sad for us,” he said. “He’s been such a wonderful friend and mentor. He’s a priest’s priest.”