Celestine Damiano

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Celestine Damiano
Apostolic Delegate to South Africa; later Archbishop (personal title) of Camden, 1960-1967
Appointed November 27, 1952
Installed 1953
Term ended 1960
Ordination December 21, 1935
Consecration February 11, 1953
by Bishop Joseph A. Burke
Personal details
Born (1911-11-01)November 1, 1911
Dunkirk, New York
Died October 2, 1967(1967-10-02) (aged 55)
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
Buried Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Vito and Stella (née Zaccari) Damiano
Education St. Michael's College, Toronto
Alma mater Urban College of the Propaganda, Rome

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).


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, Ontario, 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.


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]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Previous Bishops". Blessed Pope John XXIII Parish. Archived from the original on 2011-10-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Archbishop Celestine Joseph Damiano". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. [self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c d "Archbishop Celestine Damiano". Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden. 
  4. ^ "Celestine Joseph Damiano". Find A Grave Memorial. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Martin Lucas, S.V.D.
Apostolic Delegate to South Africa
Succeeded by
Joseph Francis McGeough
Preceded by
Justin J. McCarthy
Bishop of Camden
Succeeded by
George H. Guilfoyle