Mass marks 75th anniversary of the Diocese of Camden

CAMDEN – The Diocese of Camden concluded its year of celebration for its 75th anniversary on Dec. 9 here at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where representatives of all six counties of the church in South Jersey gathered to celebrate the diocese’s past and look with encouragement to the future.

The 3 p.m. liturgy saw 300 gathered, including 55 priests, 20 deacons, and religious and laity, with Bishop Joseph Galante, presider and homilist.

“We come in thanksgiving and praise to God, who has guided us over these past 75 years,” said Bishop Galante at the start of the liturgy. He thanked God for his “providence, and faithfulness.”

Bishop Galante acknowledged the efforts of the faithful in the diocese, “for your efforts and responsiveness to God’s call.” He also reminded those gathered that they need the “courage to live, love Jesus, and make him known and experienced,” to those who have lost their way, or have no knowledge of his saving grace.

We have to help those individuals discover “energy, enthusiasm, and understand Jesus,” he said.

The date of the Sunday celebration, Dec. 9, was the same date, 75 years ago, 1937, when Pope Pius XI established the six-county diocese in South Jersey.

Bishop Bartholomew J. Eustace was named its first bishop. The new diocese, formerly a part of the Diocese of Trenton, was created from six counties in South Jersey: Atlantic, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Cape May and Salem.

Sunday’s Mass capped off a year of celebration for the diocese’s 75th anniversary, which started with a Catholic Schools Week liturgy at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Williamstown. In between, among other observances, there were pilgrimages to Lourdes and to the Holy Land, and this past October, to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The theme for the anniversary celebration was “Full of Grace.” Taken from the Hail Mary, the words not only reference the Blessed Mother and her Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States and the diocese, but was also meant to describe the Catholics of the diocese.

The Diocese of Camden is now comprised of 475,000 Catholics in 70 parishes under the leadership of Bishop Galante, installed in 2004 as the seventh bishop of Camden.

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