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Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci

On Monday, September 19th, Pope Benedict XVI named the Most Reverend Peter Anthony Libasci as the tenth Bishop of Manchester. He was installed as bishop at St. Joseph Cathedral on December 8, 2011.

Biography 

Peter Anthony Libasci was born November 9, 1951, to the late William and Florence Libasci in Queens, N.Y. He attended St. Margaret School, Middle Village, N.Y., followed by Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, Elmhurst, N.Y. 
 
Throughout middle school, he helped clean the church on Friday afternoons. He says this is where he began learning about the Liturgy. He also sang for the parish choir. Throughout high school, he was active in the parish leadership program.
Libasci earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John’s University, Jamaica, N.Y., and a Master of Divinity degree from St. Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad, Ind.
Father Libasci was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on April 1, 1978 by Bishop John R. McGann. Bishop-designate Libasci served as administrator for six months and then pastor for ten years of Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, Inwood.
Since 1999, Father Libasci has served as pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux parish in Montauk, N.Y.
On December 10, 2004, Father Libasci was named Honorary Prelate to His Holiness Pope John Paul II with the title of monsignor.
On April 3, 2007, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appointed Msgr. Libasci auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He was installed on June 1, 2007 at St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, N.Y.
During his time as an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Libasci has assisted Bishop William Murphy in the leadership of the 1.4 million Catholics on Long Island and served as the bishop’s representative for the Eastern Vicariate (Suffolk County).
Bishop Libasci is bi-ritual and celebrates the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church. Bishop Libasci has a close relationship with his brother, two sisters, nieces and nephews.
Bishop-Designate Peter A. Libasci's Episcopal Coat of Arms
The Libasci Episcopal Coat of Arms is grounded in an original Monsignorial design that was simplified in keeping with the heraldic traditions of bishops in the United States of America. Bishop Libasci’s coat of arms will again undergo a revision in the coming weeks, incorporating elements of the diocesan coat of arms to reflect his new role as the Tenth Bishop of Manchester.
Below are some details about his Episcopal Coat of Arms in its current form.
The shape of the shield is one commonly used by prelates in the Church in America, but, appropriate enough, this shape original came to American church heraldry through Sicilian armorial and thus indirectly honors the bishop-designate’s Sicilian heritage.
There are always lines of division within each coat of arms’ shield. Each has a particular purpose. The episcopal design for Bishop Libasci makes use of a division line that is almost never seen in American heraldry. It is known as the ‘Pile Enarched’, which is very similar to an exaggerated “V” shape, which originated in Eastern Europe, thus a similar symbolic tribute to that part of the bishop’s ancestry, his maternal Slovak roots. There is a secondary symbolism to this choice of division within the shield. When color and metal are added to the design, this “V” form suggests to the viewer of the coat of arms a similarity to a modern Gothic chasuble, the liturgical vestment for both priest and bishop. This symbolic reference is intended as a tribute to the bishop’s vocation—as both priest and now as bishop of the Catholic Church.
The shield is rendered in real gold, the rarest of metals and the most precious and the metal assigned symbolically to the Petrine Office to which Bishop Libasci is so devoted. Upon this gold field, split almost from top to bottom by the ‘Pile Enarched’ are two stylized crosses known in heraldry as the Cross Bottony. These crosses have been rendered in heraldic red, the tincture, or color, representing martyrdom and the Precious Blood in Christian symbolism. Within each of the red Cross Bottony appears further symbolic references. On the dexter side (the side appearing on the left as one views the design) the Cross Bottony has been marked with the Cross of Calvary, the emblem of the Christian Faith, particularly within the Latin Rite. Its appearance herein is commemorative of Bishop Libasci’s role as priest of the Latin Rite. In the terminus of the arms of Cross Bottony appears the letters in monogram I• H• S, the Christological cipher representing the first three letters in the name of JESUS in the Greek alphabet but also said to represent Jesus, of men, the Savior from the Latin: Iesus, Hominum, Salvator. This monogram is likewise worked in liquid gold, the metal symbolizing the omnipotence of God and His Divine mercy.
In the field opposite this Cross Bottony, that is to say in the Sinister side as one views the design, a second red Bottony Cross appears. Within it, however, is rendered the Ruthenian Rite Cross in gold along with the Greek Christological monogram IC• XC, which appears in either side of the terminus of the transverse arm and which translates from the Greek as Christ Conquers All Things. This charge, or emblem, represents Bishop Libasci’s esteemed bi-ritual standing as a valid priest in the Ruthenian Rite of the Catholic Church. The two crosses also bring balance to the design which is fundamental to all proper ecclesial and civil heraldry and which the rubrics of Rome demand.
In the field created by the line of division known as the ‘Pile Enarched,’ the use of the heraldic tincture Vert, or green, was intentionally selected as it was this color that dominated the largest field of the original monsignorial design for Bishop Libasci’s coat of arms and both tradition and the law required that it be retained. This green represents both Christian charity and the rejuvenation of one’s soul through good works—both aims and responsibilities of members of the clergy, in particular for those in the teaching office of bishop. Green is also the color of everlasting life and the ordinary time in the Church and as such honors the priesthood in a particular way. Upon this field, appears the Apostolic Rose, which was created by James-Charles Noonan, Jr. in the months following the death of Pope John Paul II, Servant of God as a way to honor the late pontiff and to honor the Petrine Office. Peter A. Libasci was the first bishop to ever bear it in an episcopal design.
The Apostolic Rose
The Apostolic Rose consists of twelve petals, alternating gold and silver, the colors of the Petrine Office and the Holy See. The number twelve represents the Twelve Apostles, the select of Christ, actually honoring the original eleven and the one chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. Six external petals are worked in silver representing light and truth and represent ‘the Truths’ (dogma) as taught by the Magisterium of the Church. The six internal petals are worked in gold, representing the sacred and the divine; and the sacred post entrusted to the papacy as ‘Vicar of Christ’. Golden yellow is also the color specifically associated with Saint Peter. He has always been depicted wearing a mantle of gold cloth representing the majesty of the Petrine Office, which bears his name. 
In place of the standard bud of the heraldic rose is a field of sanguine, or blood red, on which appears the Bark of Saint Peter, a tossed and turned galley of the First Century with one mast and sail representing the journey taken by the first pope from the Holy Land to Rome to establish the See of Rome. Upon this sail is charged the Petrine Cross, an upside down Latin Cross worked in red. Red represents the blood of Peter’s martyrdom and the upside down cross his chosen means of crucifixion. Emanating from the Bark and in between each petal are veins of the sanguine representing the physical martyrdom of so many of the popes of the first centuries of Christianity. Each vein likewise represents the spiritual and personal sacrifice of every pontiff since.
Motto
In heraldry, a motto has been both a personal philosophy of life as well as a family dictum, and sometimes even a cry for battle. But in Church heraldry, a cleric’s personal motto has always been intended to represent his personal spirituality and theologically based philosophy of life and is most frequently grounded in Sacred Scripture or in a prominent prayer or litany.
In the original monsignorial coat of arms design of Peter A. Libasci the choice for a motto was scripturally based. The monsignorial design likewise further honored the (then) monsignor’s maternal ancestry as it was translated into the Slovak language.  The words “I have neither silver nor gold but what I have I give you. Arise and Walk” can be found in the Acts of the Apostles (3:1-10): “Now Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer. And a certain man who was lame from his mother’s womb was carried: whom they laid everyday at the gate of the temple, which is called Beautiful, that he might ask alms of those that went into the temple. He, when he had seen Peter and John, about to enter the temple, asked to receive alms. But Peter with John fixing his eyes upon him said: ‘Look upon us.’ But he gazed deeply upon them, hoping that he would receive something from them. But Peter said—‘I have neither silver nor gold but what I have I give you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Arise and walk.’”
The first design incorporated the bishop’s choice of a motto from Acts (3:1-10) but rendered it in Slovak appearing as Striebro a zlato nemám ale čo mám to ti dávam, the text traditionally read in the liturgy of the Church on the Wednesday of the Octave of Easter.
As a bishop, the same scriptural passage forms the motto of the new episcopal arms of Peter A. Libasci, but in keeping with his desire to assume a very simple form of episcopal design and to bear a motto readily open to all who see it, not just his Slovak family, the last three words of the original monsignorial motto, Arise and Walk, have been selected by the bishop as his episcopal motto and have now been rendered in English.
The Externals
There are external elements to every coat of arms design that must also be explained. This is also so in ecclesial heraldry. Surmounting the episcopal shield of a titular bishop is the pilgrim’s hat, the heraldic emblem for all prelates and priests of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. For the rank of bishop, the pilgrim’s hat is always worked in medieval green, the true color of the Office of Bishop. For this rank and office, there are six tassels suspended on either side in a pyramidal style, also worked in green. Vatican heraldic law also requires that the interior of each class of galero be rendered in blood red as a reminder to each priest and prelate of the martyrdom of so many of the earliest popes, bishops, and priests. The bishop’s galero color differs from that in the new bishop’s original coat of arms design, where the hat was then worked in black, the true color of the priesthood, while the tassels and cords were worked in violet of the honorary prelature, which the rubrics require for the rank of Chaplain of His Holiness.
This hat is properly known as the galero and the tassels take the name fiocchi.
Heraldic law regarding the Office of Bishop requires that the episcopal, or processional, cross appear behind and above the shield and below the galero of each residential and titular bishop. It is the custom of the heraldic designer, James-Charles Noonan, Jr., to create a newly designed cross for each new bishop named, each processional cross linked to the symbolism of the prelate named. The episcopal cross incorporated into the Peter A. Libasci coat of arms has been entitled the « Petrine Cross », which is rendered in gold, once more representing divine sovereignty.  It is so called as the cross incorporates elements traditionally associated with the life and apostolate of the first pope, Peter of Bethsaida, who is Bishop-Designate Libasci’s patron saint.
First amongst these Petrine symbolic emblems are wards of the keys of the Kingdom, the handle of the renaissance style key, that appear at the terminus of each arm of the Petrine Cross. Although there are three displayed on this cross, (while only two keys are incorporated into the Petrine imagery), the ward at each terminus of the cross actually represents the gift of the powers given Saint Peter by Christ rather than the actual number of keys presented by Christ. Within each ward is found a Roman Cross representing the See of Rome.
The center of the cross bears a cabochon ruby worked in the deepest blood red. This is the stone traditionally associated with martyrdom, especially the martyrdom of the first pope and so many of the popes that followed him.  The setting for the ruby of martyrdom is worked in the golden links of a chain to commemorate Saint Peter’s imprisonment prior to his reverse crucifixion in c. A.D. 64.
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Peter Anthony Libasci was born November 9, 1951, to the late William and Florence Libasci in Queens, N.Y. He attended St. Margaret School, Middle Village, N.Y., followed by Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, Elmhurst, N.Y.

Throughout middle school, he helped clean the church on Friday afternoons. He says this is where he began learning about the Liturgy. He also sang for the parish choir. Throughout high school, he was active in the parish leadership program.

Libasci earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John’s University, Jamaica, N.Y., and a Master of Divinity degree from St. Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad, Ind.

Father Libasci was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on April 1, 1978 by Bishop John R. McGann. He was first assigned to St. Raymond parish, East Rockaway, N.Y., and then to SS Cyril and Methodius parish, Deer Park, N.Y. In 1988, he was assigned to Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, Inwood, N.Y., where he served for 11 years as administrator and then pastor.

In 1999, Father Libasci was appointed pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux parish in Montauk, N.Y. He presided over the construction process of the new church, which was dedicated by Bishop William Murphy on March 31, 2007.

On December 10, 2004, Father Libasci was named Honorary Prelate to His Holiness Pope John Paul II with the title of monsignor.

On April 3, 2007, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appointed Msgr. Libasci auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He was installed on June 1, 2007 at St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, N.Y.

Bishop Libasci assisted Bishop Murphy in leadership of the 1.4 million Catholics on Long Island and served as Episcopal Vicar, or the Bishop’s representative, for the Eastern Vicariate (Suffolk County). Bishop Libasci was the ninth auxiliary bishop named in the 50-year history of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Bishop Libasci is bi-ritual and celebrates the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church.

He has a close relationship with his brother, two sisters, nieces and nephews.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Libasci as the tenth Bishop of Manchester on September 19, 2011. Bishop Libasci now is the shepherd of more than a quarter million Catholics in New Hampshire.

Diocese of Manchester
The Catholic Church in New Hampshire

153 Ash Street, Box 310
Manchester, NH 03105-0310
(603) 669-3100
Fax: (603) 669-0377

© Diocese of Manchester