Father Eckert, pastor and missionary, dies

Father William Francis Eckert, 85, a priest of the Diocese of Camden for almost 50 years, died Jan. 18.

Father Eckert served as pastor at St. Maurice, Brooklawn (1987-90); St. Edward, Pine Hill (1990-92); and Resurrection, Marmora (1992-94).

For more than 10 years in the 1960s and 1970s, Father Eckert took part in the Brazilian Missions.

In occasional pieces published in the Catholic Star Herald, Father Eckert shared his experiences of working with residents of the South American country, and bringing his Catholic faith to them.

In an essay published in March 2012, “The diocese’s important contribution to Brazil,” Father Eckert wrote of the diocese’s 50 years of sending priests to Brazil
to work in four parishes.

The priests who served in Brazil, like himself, “came to staff, to preach, to teach and to witness to Christ and his church…. Work among the poor was not neglected,” he wrote.

He was parochial vicar at St. Raymond, Villas (1964); Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Berlin (1964-65); St. Maria Goretti, Runnemede (1971-72); Sacred Heart, Vineland (1972-73); St. Isidore, Vineland (1973-77); St. Vincent de Paul, Mays Landing (1978-80); Our Lady of Good Counsel, Ocean City (1980); St. Mary Magdalen, Millville (1982); and Sts. Peter and Paul, Turnersville (1982-84).

Father Eckert was also chaplain at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point.
He retired in 1994.

Father Al Hewett, who first met Father Eckert in 1966 when the two were working together in the Brazilian Missions, remembered a priest who had “great compassion for the sick,” and was dedicated to fulfilling God’s work.

“I certainly didn’t have his talent for writing, or creative ideas, but what we did share…was a love for our share in Jesus’ priesthood,” Father Hewett said. “We prayed together, went to confession to one another, and affirmed one another in what mattered most in our lives as priests.”

“Although we didn’t agree on everything, we did agree on the essentials of our priesthood and ministry to God’s people. I thank God for almost 47 years of friendship with him.”

Born in Jersey City, Father Eckert attended Seton Hall University in South Orange; Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, N.Y.; and Our Lady of the Angels Seminary in Albany, N.Y., before being ordained on May 16, 1964 in Camden by Archbishop Celestine J. Damiano.

Before being ordained, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

A Mass of Christian Burial was to be celebrated on Friday, Jan. 25 at St. Mark’s Church in Pittsfield, Mass. Burial was to take place at St. Joseph Cemetery, Pittsfield.

Mass Cards and messages of sympathy may be sent to Father Eckert’s niece: Irene Coviello, 91 Yvonne Drive, Dalton, MA 01126.

Categories: Latest News

About Author