Blazon and Explanation of the Coat of Arms of
The Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, D.D.,
Fourth Bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey
Blazon: Quarterly, in the first Argent two fish respecting to dexter hauriant and to sinister uriant; in the second Azure an open book Argent bound Or; in the third six barrulets wavy Azure and Argent; in the fourth Gules a cross issuant from a wagon wheel Argent. (Bootkoski) Overall an escutcheon in pretense; quarterly, Or and Argent, in dexter chief a tongue of fire Gules; in sinister base the letter "M" Azure, crowned Argent; overall a cross Moline Azure. (Diocese of Metuchen) Ensigned with a processional cross palewise behind the shield Or and a galero with cords and twelve tassels disposed in three rows of one, two and three all Vert.
Explanation: The complete heraldic achievement of the Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski shows the arms of the Diocese of Metuchen marshaled with his personal arms and displaying external ornaments of a bishop.
It is customary in North America to depict the arms of a bishop joined on the same shield with the arms of his diocese. Bishop Bootkoski has elected an unconventional, though perfectly correct manner of doing this. Since his personal arms divide the shield into four quarters the arms of the Diocese of Metuchen are placed on a smaller separate shield overlapping the bishop’s personal arms. In heraldry this is known as an escutcheon "in pretense".
The coat of arms of the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ is based on both the arms of the See of Trenton, NJ, from which it was separated as well as those of Pope John Paul II who erected the diocese on November 19, 1981.
The shield is divided into four quadrants representing the four counties of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren that comprise the diocesan territory. The gold and silver colors (also shown in heraldry as yellow and white, respectively) are the colors used on the flag of the Vatican City State. Because of this they are known as the papal colors.
The cross moline is taken from the arms of the See of Trenton. This shape of the cross is often associated with the Order of St. Benedict in heraldry. Its blue color here is the reverse of the Trenton arms (which depict a gold cross on a blue field).
In the upper left of the shield there is a red tongue of fire. The word "Metuchen" is derived from the Lenne Lenape Indian word "metachen", which means, "firewood". In addition this symbol is associated with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles at Pentecost.
In the lower right we see a blue letter "M" surmounted by a silver crown. This is the monogram for Mary, Our Queen. The diocese is under the patronage of the Queenship of Mary. In addition, the crown is taken from the arms of Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the founding bishop of Metuchen, who was ordained to the priesthood on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. (It was also Cardinal McCarrick who ordained Bishop Bootkoski a bishop in 1997.) The "M" also appears in the arms of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.
The personal arms of Bishop Bootkoski, modified slightly from the original arms he bore as Titular Bishop of Zarna and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, combine elements alluding to the Bishop’s heritage and ministry. The two red fish on a silver background are reminiscent of the arms of the Klimek family (the Bishop’s maternal ancestors). The name "Klimek" is a variation of "Clement" who was the third successor to St. Peter as Bishop of Rome. The fish remind us of Peter, the Fisherman and his successors. Their inclusion also honors the faith-filled witness of Bishop Bootkoski’s maternal grandparents and the influence they had on his life and faith.
The book with the gold binding on a blue background has a two-fold significance. First, it stands for the Word of God which Bishop Bootkoski has preached throughout his priestly ministry and now preaches in a special way as a successor to the apostles and chief shepherd of a local church. The book also stands for the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict. This is a tribute to a Saint for whom the Bishop has a personal devotion and to the Benedictine Order whose monks have had a great formative influence in the Bishop’s spiritual life, education and vocation.
The quadrant containing the six blue and silver wavy lines borrows these from the arms of the Archdiocese of Newark. The Bishop served as priest bishop and administrator in this Archdiocese before coming to the Diocese of Metuchen. These wavy lines represent the six rivers that touch the Newark Archdiocese (Hackensack, Hudson, Passaic, Rahway, Raritan and Saddle Rivers)
The last quadrant shows a red background with a silver wagon wheel. The wheel is broken at the top and has a cross issuing from the center. This is from the family arms of the Bishop’s paternal ancestors from Poland. Polish heraldry often makes use of what are called "house marks" utilized by various tradesmen as symbols of their profession. The wheel was used as a symbol of the carpenter’s trade. The Butkowski (Bootkoski is a variant) family were apparently carpenters. The silver cross issuing from the center of the wheel is both an indication of their faith and an expression of their hope that their work might give glory to God.
The principal colors on the shield are also significant. The first and fourth quadrants alluding to the Bishop’s family employ red and white, which are the national colors of Poland. The overall design makes use primarily of red, white and blue. These are the national colors of the United States of America on whose national day of Independence (July 4) the Bishop was born.
Behind the shield, and visible extending above and below it, is a gold processional cross. A green ecclesiastical hat called a "galero" is placed above the shield. Hanging on each side of the shield is six green tassels. These are the external ornaments proper to a prelate with the rank of bishop according to the Instruction of the Holy See, "Ut Sive Sollicite" of March 31, 1969.
For the motto depicted on a scroll below the shield Bishop Bootkoski has chosen the phrase, "God’s Grace Suffices". This is taken from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 12:9) in which St. Paul recalls God’s words to him in time of trouble. These words remind all Christians that God is with us and provides the strength we need to accomplish the task God sets before us.
The Reverend Michael M. Walters of the Archdiocese of Newark originally designed the personal coat of arms of Bishop Bootkoski. The coat of arms was modified, marshaled to those of the diocese and emblazoned by The Reverend Guy W. Selvester, a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen, as well as a heraldic designer and member of the American College of Heraldry.