Celestine Damiano

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Celestine Joseph Damiano (November 1, 1911 — October 2, 1967) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Apostolic Delegate to South Africa (1953-1960) and Bishop of Camden (1960-1967).

Biography[edit]

The oldest of six children, Celestine Damiano was born in Dunkirk, New York to Vito and Stella (née Zaccari) Damiano, who were Italian immigrants.[1] Receiving his early education at public schools in Dunkirk, he studied at St. Michael's College in Toronto, Canada, for two years before entering the Urban College of the Propaganda in Rome, where he studied philosophy and theology.[1]

Damiano was ordained to the priesthood on December 21, 1935.[2] He then did pastoral work in the Diocese of Buffalo until 1947, when he became an official of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.[3]

On November 27, 1952, Damiano was appointed Apostolic Delegate to South Africa and Titular Archbishop of Nicopolis in Epiro by Pope Pius XII.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on February 11, 1953 from Bishop Joseph A. Burke, with Archbishop John Francis O'Hara, C.S.C., and Bishop Leo Richard Smith serving as co-consecrators, at St. Joseph's Cathedral.[2]

He was highly influential in changing the face of the local Church in South Africa, where he became a vocal opponent of apartheid.[3] Following the death of Bishop Justin J. McCarthy in December 1959, Damiano was named the third Bishop of Camden, New Jersey (with the personal title of Archbishop) on January 24, 1960.[2] He was installed at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on May 3, 1960.[2]

In September 1960, Damiano launched a drive to raise $5 million for the construction and improvement of Catholic secondary schools in the diocese.[1] He established Camden Catholic High School, Holy Spirit High School, and Paul VI High School, and opened 17 new elementary schools with enrollment increasing by more than 3,000. He also founded a diocesan school board in 1965, and greatly expanded the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.[1]

Damiano was also concerned with the welfare of Puerto Ricans in his diocese, and established the Spanish Catholic Center at Vineland in 1962.[3] Damiano initiated the diocese's Brazil mission project in 1961, and the House of Charity Appeal for funding diocesan human services in 1964.[3] He was a member of the Central Preparatory Commission and attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). He delivered the invocation for the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.

Death[edit]

While recuperating from gall bladder surgery, Damiano died from a blood clot at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital, aged 55.[1] He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cherry Hill.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Previous Bishops". Blessed Pope John XXIII Parish. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop Celestine Joseph Damiano". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Archbishop Celestine Damiano". Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden. 
  4. ^ "Celestine Joseph Damiano". Find A Grave Memorial. 
Preceded by
Martin Lucas, S.V.D.
Apostolic Delegate to South Africa
1952—1960
Succeeded by
Joseph Francis McGeough
Preceded by
Justin J. McCarthy
Bishop of Camden
1960—1967
Succeeded by
George H. Guilfoyle