Msgr. Graham, who served in both schools and parishes, dies


Msgr. William Paul Graham, 80, former pastor, vice principal and teacher in the Diocese of Camden, died on Oct. 6.

A Mass of Christian Burial was to be celebrated by Bishop Dennis Sullivan on Oct. 10 at Saint Gabriel the Archangel Parish (Corpus Christi Church), Carneys Point, and burial was to follow at Saint Joseph Cemetery, Swedesboro.

Born in Penns Grove, Msgr. Graham studied at Jordan Seminary (Menominee, Wisconsin) and Mount Saint Mary (Emmitsburg, Maryland) before being ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Camden on May 22, 1965 by Archbishop Celestine J. Damiano in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden.

During the first part of his active ministry, he formed high school-age minds in Catholic education in the 1960s and 1970s as a teacher at Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, and Paul VI, Haddonfield, and as vice principal at Gloucester Catholic.

He left education after more than 25 years in 1991 and devoted nearly two decades to parish work.

He served as pastor at Saint John Bosco, Millville (1991-98), and Saint Lawrence, Lindenwold (1998-2010). He retired in 2010

Msgr. Graham was also active with the diocesan Priests Council, and Priest Personnel Board.

Priest friends recalled his amiability to all and his strong support of education.

Remembering Msgr. Graham as a “people person who embraced his ministry enthusiastically,” his friend, retired priest Father Terry Odien, called him “an excellent English teacher” who had a great love of theater. “After all of those years in the classroom, he found life in the parish as a pastor equally enriching,” he said.

Father Steve Rapposelli, administrator at Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Turnersville, was assigned to Saint Lawrence Parish shortly after his ordination, where Msgr. Graham was pastor, and the two “got along well.”

“He brought good things to the parish, and was able to relate to all, be them teens, adults or elderly. It was a good first assignment, and he was a good first pastor,” Father Rapposelli said.