Checchio installed as new bishop

Eric Sucar
During the anointing of the head, Rev. Msgr. James F. Checchio is ordained and installed as the fifth Bishop of Metuchen during a ceremony and mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield on May 3.

Staff Writer

SOUTH PLAINFIELD — In the coming weeks, newly ordained and installed Bishop James F. Checchio will celebrate Masses in 10 deaneries throughout the four-county Diocese of Metuchen.

Checchio, 50, was installed as the fifth Bishop of Metuchen on May 3 at the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield.

He replaced  Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski, who served the diocese for 14 years.

Approximately 1,200 people attended the installation, including cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious brothers and sisters and laity representing each of the 90 parishes of the diocese, Catholic school communities, Catholic Charities, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System and the Catholic Center at Rutgers.

Metropolitan Archbishop of Newark, the Most Rev. John J. Myers, served as the ordaining bishop during the installation.

Checchio, who was appointed by Pope Francis on March 8, said in the coming days he will begin to think about how to develop his relationship with the priests, deacons, religious and lay people of the diocese.

“Coming from a situation where there were a few hundred priests and seminarians that I worked with primarily and a larger community of lay people and employees who supported the work of the college in many ways … [that] was a big community, but it certainly was not the size of the diocese here,” he said.

Checchio said he has worked with a lot of priests and faculty over the years so his first thoughts after being appointed to the bishop role were directed to the priests and the lay people of the Metuchen Diocese and developing relationships with them.

The New Jersey native will lead more than 640,000 Catholics in the diocese comprised of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties. He will oversee 90 parishes, 26 Catholic schools, two Catholic cemeteries, Catholic Charities-Diocese of Metuchen, the diocesan-sponsored St. Peter’s University Hospital and the Catholic Center at Rutgers University.

Most recently, Checchio served as rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome from January 2006 to January 2016 after serving as vice rector there for two and a half years.

Checchio was born in Camden and raised in Collingswood. Before his most recent service in Rome, he held various roles in the Diocese of Camden, serving as secretary to Bishop James T. McHugh and as a vice-chancellor, director of communications, moderator of the curia and episcopal vicar for the administration of the diocese.

He also served in the Tribunal and as a member of the College of Consultors, Presbyteral Council, Investment Committee and Diocesan Finance Council.

Checchio served as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish and assisted at St. Jude Parish, both in Blackwood. He was also a summer parochial vicar at St. Peter Parish, Merchantville, and St. Peter Celestine Parish, Cherry Hill.

He was appointed as Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II in 2000, granting him the title of monsignor, and was appointed a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, a papal honor bestowed on diocesan priests.

Checchio received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He studied at North American College, Rome, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Camden on June 20, 1992, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden.

He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from LaSalle University, Philadelphia, and Doctorate of Canon Law and Bachelor of Sacred Theology degrees from the University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome.

The Diocese of Metuchen was established Nov. 19, 1981, by Pope St. John Paul II.

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