Father David Beebe, who served in multiple ministries, dies



Father David Elroy Beebe, 81, a retired priest who served the Diocese of Camden as a pastor, catechist, campus minister and executive director of the Diocesan Synod, died March 2.

Born Feb. 7, 1935, in Hartford, Conn., he studied for the priesthood at Saint Mary Seminary in Baltimore before being ordained in Camden on May 27, 1961.

In his 44 years in active ministry, he shared his Catholic faith with youth both at the high school and college level. He taught at both Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill and Gloucester Catholic High School in Gloucester City in the 1960s, and he was campus minister at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) from 1982-85 and his alma mater, LaSalle University, from 1998 until his retirement in 2005.

Father Beebe served as the diocesan Director of Religious Education in the 1970s and served a term as the Religious Education Representative for the United States Catholic Conference.

He was pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Cherry Hill when Bishop James T. McHugh tapped him for the 22-month job as executive director of the Diocesan Synod, a gathering of clergy, religious and laity called by the bishop to advise him on updating diocesan legislation and policies.

When that task was completed in 1992, Father Beebe became director of the Saint Pius X Spiritual Life Center in Blackwood. He worked there until his last assignment as campus minister at LaSalle.

In addition to his full time duties, Father Beebe served as spiritual director of the South Jersey Cursillo Movement and was a member of several diocesan committees: RCIA Implementation, Continuing Education and Spiritual Formation of Priests, Priest Personnel Board (including two terms as chairman) and others.

Msgr. Roger E. McGrath, pastor at Saints Peter and Paul in Turnersville, had a friendship with Father Beebe that lasted more than 40 years, beginning when Father Beebe was Director of Religious Education, and Msgr. McGrath was assistant superintendent of schools for Religious Education.

“He was a good priest, good friend, upbeat, fun to be with, and well-liked” by fellow priests and the people he served, Msgr. McGrath remembered.

“Father Beebe always put other people first, and helped others grow in their faith,” particularly the students in high school and college. “They could always confide in him,” Msgr. McGrath said.

Father Beebe also “loved to cook and provide meals for people,” and was an avid college sports fan, especially for his beloved LaSalle Explorers. Just days before his death, Father Beebe took in a boys’ basketball game on their home court, cheering them on to a win.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated March 10 at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Turnersville. Interment followed at Calvary Cemetery in Cherry Hill.