Most Reverend John W. Flesey, S.T.D.


The Most Reverend John Walter Flesey, STD was born in Jersey City, NJ on August 6, 1942, the son of Joseph and Mary MacIsaac.  He attended St. Aedan’s Grammar School and St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, graduated from St. Peter’s College with a BA in History in 1964, and attended Immaculate Conception Seminary until 1969, when he was ordained.

Father Flesey’s first assignment was to St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Plainfield, after which he earned an STL degree in Spiritual Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. 

He also holds an MS degree in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College and an STB from Catholic University of America

He has served the Archdiocese as a member of the faculty, Rector and Dean, and Spiritual Director of Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University, as well as Director of Ongoing Formation for the Priests of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Bishop Flesey was named Titular Bishop of Allegheny and Auxiliary

Bishop of Newark in May 2004.  He currently serves as Regional Bishop of Bergen County and Pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Franklin Lakes. 

Coat of Arms

Blazon: Azure, a winged lion passant gardant, its forepaw on a book inscribed “Pax Tibi Marce, Evangelista Meus”, all or,  with a nimbus argent; in base a crescent or; on a chief gules, a dove descending argent with a tri-radiant nimbus or and gules.

Significance: The coat of arms of a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church is composed of a shield which is augmented by a processional cross placed behind the shield and surmounted by an ecclesiastical hat and tassels.  A scroll bearing the motto of the bishop is placed below the shield in the full achievement (depiction) of the arms.  These external ornaments are governed by heraldic rules established over the course of centuries and modified after the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI in 1969.  The processional cross is gold and is reminiscent of the cross carried before a bishop whenever he officiated at the liturgy.  In various forms, it has been used in ecclesiasti­cal heraldry since the fourteenth century.  The hat and tassels, called a gallero, began as a pilgrim’s hat conferred upon the cardinals by Pope Innocent IV.  From there it was adopted by all ranks of the clergy; its colour and number of tassels denoted the rank of the wearer.  As a heraldic device, it was used in place of the helmet and crest of secular arms.  In this case, the hat is green, denoting the episcopal order; the twelve tassels, arranged six to a side, indicate the rank of bishop.

The shield itself forms the most personal part of the bishop’s coat of arms.  It developed from the shield carried by the knights of the Middle Ages which were painted in such a way as to enable easy identification of the bearer in the heat of battle.  As time went on, conventions regarding the design of the shield were monitored by scholars called heralds.  From these martial origins, the Church adapted the principles of heraldry for its own purposes such as seals used in the authentification of documents.

The shield bearing the personal arms of Bishop Flesey has been designed to reflect his personal history and ministry.  The principal colours are blue and red, which when combined with the charges upon the shield in white, recall the colours of the shield of the Archdiocese of Newark.  A further connection with the Archdiocese is made by the insertion of the crescent at the base of the shield which represents Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the principal patroness of the Archdiocese and Immaculate Conception Seminary where Bishop Flesey studied and taught for many years.  In the centre of the shield is the Lion of St. Mark, one of the four living creatures of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:7), which from earliest times has been associated with St. Mark, the author of the oldest Gospel.  In this context, the Lion is drawn to recall the Lion on the coat-of-arms of Blessed Pope John XXIII who borrowed it from the City of Venice where he served as Patriarch (Archbishop).  It was Pope John who summoned the bishops of the world to the Second Vatican Council; the changes in the Church (aggiornamento) brought about by the Council have established the context in which Bishop Flesey has exercised his priestly ministry.  The Lion also recalls Bishop Flesey’s home parish, St. Aedan in Jersey City where the symbols of the Evangelists are carved on the façade (but he did  develop a fondness for Venice during the years he spent in Rome).  At the top of the shield is a chief, a heraldic device often used as an augmentation to personal arms denoting an honour or membership in a group.  In this case, the chief refers to Bishop Flesey’s doctorate in spirituality.  It depicts the Holy Spirit descending with Wisdom and Grace fulfilling the promise of Jesus given to the Apostles that he would send the Spirit to instruct them in all Truth (John 16:13).

The achievement is completed by placing a scroll bearing the new bishop’s motto beneath the shield.  Bishop Flesey has chosen “MY SPIRIT REJOICES” as his motto.  The words are taken from Mary’s Song of Praise, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46).  In her Song, Mary gives praise to God for the wonders that he has worked in the world and in her own life.  In recalling the moment when John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb of his mother, St. Elizabeth, Bishop Flesey wishes to honor the Sisters of St. John the Baptist with whom he has served as colleague and friend for the past thirty-five years.  In a sense, the Magnificat is the song of every Christian who has experienced the mighty power of God through the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.  Called to unity with the Lord Jesus, our spirit rejoices that he has saved us and set us free.