Community asked to pray for Bishop Matthew Clark as his health declines

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Matthew Clark, the bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Rochester, is in declining health, according to a message on Wednesday from the diocese.

Bishop Matano said he went to see Bishop Clark yesterday and after that visit, he asked that all priests, deacons, and people of the church pray for Bishop Clark. 

Bishop Matano wrote, “I regret to inform you, that his excellency, the most reverend Matthew H. Clark, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Rochester, recently has experienced declining health and his current health condition is now quite serious.”

Mathew Clark was born outside Albany in 1937. He is 85-years-old. 

After serving in Albany and Rome, Clark was consecrated as Bishop of Rochester at the War Memorial in 1979. He was 42 years old, one of the youngest American Catholic bishops ever. Clark served as the 8th Bishop of Rochester until 2012.

He was known as the “baby bishop” who liked to jog, sometimes up to eight miles a day and he created a culture that welcomed women to ministry.

Berkeley Brean spoke to Father Bill Coffas, pastor at Our Mother of Sorrows in Greece. 

He thinks of the time when Bishop Clark came to visit the seminary in Washington, D.C., and Father Coffas, a student at the time, was assigned to drive him to the airport. 

“And I said that’s good Bishop because I would really like to speak to you about the call to celibacy,” said Father Coffas. “I was getting serious about becoming a deacon and making those promises. And he immediately said ‘Bill, you do not need to drive me to the airport for me to have a conversation with you. And I remember speaking to him at one of the conference rooms at the seminary and we had a good 40-minute conversation, we talked about celibacy. We talked about service to the church.”

Bishop Clark is at the Sisters of Saint Joseph Motherhouse. 

Coming up during the 6 p.m. newscast, Father Coffas talks about the skill Bishop Clark has that he is still trying to master, something a lot of us might relate to.