A look back at 2017 shows promise for the church and its leaders and followers.
Diocese of Wilmington leaders kicked off the year by reinforcing the message of encouragement for those led to a life of vocations.
“We don’t create the call; God gives it to them,” said Father Norman Carroll, director of the Office of Priestly and Religious Vocations. The new societal expectation of varied careers throughout life has one exception, vocations; people are still called to marriage, called to religious life and called to priesthood, said Father Carroll, who is also pastor of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Wilmington.
Also in January, more than 300 people from 25 faith communities gathered at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Wilmington to pray for justice, non-violence and human dignity. The ecumenical prayer service, organized by Father John M. Hynes, pastor of St. Catherine’s, was appropriately
scheduled for the day after the nation celebrated the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the night before the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Members of the diocese made the annual March for Life to Washington. “I want my kids to realize that there is hope,” said Vallie Otwell, who attended with her daughter, Miranda, a senior in high school.
Lawmakers in Maryland weighed legislation that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. Opposition to this measure, including Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide, a broad-based, non-partisan coalition, said legalizing physician-assisted suicide endangers vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, opening the door for abuse and coercion.
A goal of $4,523,000 was set for the 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal, which helps more than 35 diocesan offices and ministries assist more than 100,000 people each year develop their spirituality, seek emotional and mental peace and meet their physical needs. “Their eyes were opened and they recognized him” was the theme for the 2017 appeal.
The logo was unveiled for the Diocese of Wilmington sesquicentennial. “Rejoicing the Lord since 1868” runs from March 3, 2018 to March 3, 2019. Plans for celebration include Masses and prayer services, pilgrimages, a keepsake publication, a traveling exhibit and a Eucharistic Congress.
The year opens with a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington on March 3. In April, a diocesan pilgrimage to Annecy, France and Rome will take place.
Blessed Pope Pius IX established the diocese March 3, 1868.
Bishop Malooly began his Easter message with “Do Not be Afraid,” the words of the angel at the tomb of the risen Jesus to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as recorded in St. Matthew’s gospel. “As they were told to ‘Go tell his disciples,’ so are we called to proclaim as well,” the bishop said. “The Good News must be shared with the world through our words and our actions.”
Michael Connelly became new coordinator of Office for Safe Environments for the diocese. The former Delaware State Police captain, who served most of his career in the detective division in New Castle County, retired in 1998 as commander of Troop 2, then in New Castle, now in Glasgow.
Father Rich Jasper, 42, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wilmington by Bishop Malooly on May 20 at the Cathedral of St. Peter. A native of Delaware County (Pa.), he is the son of Kathryn (Whitworth) and Rick Jasper. He is assigned to St. Ann Church, Wilmington.
Bishop Malooly wrote a letter to priests decrying legislation in Dover that would: codify in state law legalized abortion; amend the state’s death penalty statute in order to restore capital punishment, and legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Parish appointments in the diocese represent the “linkage model” of administration as discussed in Bishop Malooly’s pastoral vision for the diocese, “Together in the Spirit.”
Sister Catherine Godfrey assumed the leadership of the Benedictine Sisters of Ridgely, Md., as part of the congregation’s biggest transition in recent memory.
A complete renovation of the 18-acre Marydale Retirement Village, managed by the Diocese of Wilmington’s Catholic Charities through Catholic Ministry to the Elderly Inc., cost more than $8 million. The 108-apartment complex had been under renovation for more than a year.
High school graduation season minted new classes of alums at St. Elizabeth, St. Mark’s, St. Thomas More Academy, Padua Academy, Ss. Peter and Paul, Archmere Academy, Ursuline Academy and Salesianum School.
Catholic Youth Ministry welcomed a record 129 golfers to Deerfield Country Club for its annual golf outing. The event helps make programming more affordable for young people from around the diocese.
The “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The joy of the gospel in America” in Orlando included six members of the Diocese of Wilmington. They were Msgr. Steven P. Hurley, Colleen Lindsey, Deacon Bob and Marie Cousar, Arline Dosman and Lynne Betts. As part of this unprecedented gathering of clergy, religious, lay parish leaders and volunteers convened by the U.S. bishops, attendees participated in a variety of presentations and discussions designed to stimulate creative and forward thinking ideas and plans of action for the American church’s response to Pope Francis’ 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”).
Catholic Youth Ministry supporters bid farewell to Joe McNesby, who retired after 28 years coordinating parish sports for young athletes. CYM renamed its biggest fundraiser the Joseph A. McNesby Jr. CYO Golf Outing.
St. Jude in Lewes formed the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregivers Support Group. Meetings help caregivers know they are not “the only person in the world going through something like this,” said Jamie McGill of the Delaware Valley chapter of the support group. “They learn some of the ways other people cope.”
Bishop Malooly ordained eight new permanent deacons for the Diocese of Wilmington.
In light of violence in Charlottesville, Va., Bishop Malooly issues a statement declaring racism is a sin that defies the image of God. “I urge all the faithful of the Diocese of Wilmington to pray for the leaders of our country and for all citizens to drive out the historic vestiges of hate and discrimination in our society and in our hearts. All Christians, believers and people of good will must make it a public responsibility as well as an individual concern to accept all people as our brothers and sisters, to eliminate covert prejudices and refuse to tolerate overt discrimination of any of our neighbors.”
Bishop Malooly issued a letter to Hispanic Catholics in response to President Trump’s announcement he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. The bishop said the church would support and advocate for the youths.
Bishop Malooly announced a new diocesan office with the appointment of Father Glenn Evers to the head of the Office for Cultural Ministries.
The last year presented serious challenges to first responders in Delaware, but they continue to sacrifice, Msgr. Steven Hurley told police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and others at the annual Blue Mass. The service was held Oct. 6 at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington, postponed from its usual first Friday in May at St. John the Beloved Church because of a funeral for a state police trooper.
The Archmere Academy community mourned the passing of junior Anthony Penna, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
The president of St. Elizabeth School has high hopes for plans to transform adjacent Canby Park, and he is confident any objections from neighbors can be overcome. Joe Papili, a 1979 graduate of St. Elizabeth High School, is excited about preliminary plans shared with the community. The school proposes revitalizing the park, adding several turf athletic fields, expanding and upgrading basketball and tennis courts; adding a walking trail; installing an upgraded playground; increasing parking and perhaps bringing a dog park to the property.
The second running of the Bishop’s 5K at Bellevue last month raised more then $16,000 for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Wilmington. More than 350 runners entered in the Nov. 18 run/walk raised the sum. The event included participants from ages 2-84.
Joe Ryan, longtime editor of The Dialog and Catholic press veteran, retired. Bishop Malooly praised Ryan’s work with The Dialog, saying he had “faithfully managed The Dialog through some very difficult times. Because of Joe’s dedication, The Dialog remains an outstanding source of Catholic news, both local and national. It is one of the few diocesan newspapers left in the region.”
Ryan’s replacement as editor and general manager is news industry veteran Joseph P. Owens.
More than 40 people from the Diocese of Wilmington attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.
Stephen Hyde and his family made a $1.5 million donation to St. Mark’s High School. Hyde and Bishop Malooly made the announcement of the donation following a Mass at the school. It was the largest donation in school history, said principal Richard A. Bayhan.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the Diocese of Wilmington was recognized for its work in the criminal justice system. The group earned the 2017 Beau Biden Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award. Among those who benefit from the work of St. Vincent de Paul are people about to be released from prison or those who have just been released.