Full of Grace – The one and only Sal Adamo


adamo-webIn this 1970 photo at left, Msgr. Salvatore J. Adamo has his picture taken on a Camden street, standing in a hole that damaged his car tire when he drove over it. He complained to PSE&G, whose workers had left the hole, and it was repaired within 24 hours. Msgr. Adamo, then executive editor of the Catholic Star Herald, ran the above photo, and another showing the hole repaired, in the paper.

Msgr. Salvatore J. Adamo’s passionate views on abortion, racism, poverty and other topics were widely read for years in the Catholic Star Herald, the Philadelphia Daily News, Courier-Post, and Press of Atlantic City. His columns and outspoken opinions were considered crusading by some, outrageous by others.

“While he was accused of enjoying controversy, he would half-heartedly deny it, saying that the church would progress only by dealing publicly with improving what needed improvement,” Father Robert Gregorio wrote about his friend after he died on Jan. 20, 2001, at the age 81.

“In his fight to maintain his status as pastor after the canonical age of retirement, in his attempt to build a parish building without approval of the diocese, in his impatence with the Roman curia, he was the bane of many,” Father Gregorio continued. But, he added, many, including some bishops and fellow priests, admired his fighting spirit.

The ninth of 10 children, Msgr. Adamo was born in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, and attended St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, and St. Mary’s Seminary in Roland Park, Baltimore, before being ordained a priest of the Camden Diocese on March 17, 1945.

He was executive editor of the Catholic Star Herald from 1962-77, and his column appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News for 30 years. The Courier-Post and Press of Atlantic City also ran his pieces, as did Natonal Catholic Reporter and America. His opinions prompted frequent letters to the editor, pro and con.

He was pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Berlin, 1956-67, after which he became rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Camden, where he served from 1967-84.

From 1984-95, he was pastor of St. Vincent Pallotti, Haddon Township, after which he retired.

Msgr. Adamo also served at Holy Spirit Parish, Atlantic City; Sacred Heart, Camden; St. Michael, Minotola; St. Michael, Atlantic City; and St. Cecilia, Pennsauken.

In 1963, he was the recipient of the Human Relations Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, and he served on the New Jersey Commission on Capital Punishment and the Camden Economic Development Advisory Committee.

Researched by Peter G. Sanchez and James A. McBride