Peter Leo Gerety

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For the American actor (born 1940), see Peter Gerety.
The Most Reverend
Peter Leo Gerety
Archbishop Emeritus of Newark
Peter Leo Gerety.jpg
See Newark
Appointed March 25, 1974
Installed June 28, 1974
Term ended June 3, 1986
Predecessor Thomas Aloysius Boland
Successor Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Other posts Coadjutor Bishop of Portland (1966-69)
Bishop of Portland (1969-74)
Orders
Ordination June 29, 1939
Consecration June 1, 1966
by Henry Joseph O'Brien
Personal details
Born (1912-07-19) July 19, 1912 (age 102)
Shelton, Connecticut
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Motto In omnibus Christ

Peter Leo Gerety (born July 19, 1912) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Archbishop of Newark from 1974 to 1986, having previously served as Bishop of Portland (1969–74).[1] At age 102, he is currently the oldest living Catholic bishop in the world.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Peter Gerety was born in Shelton, Connecticut, the oldest of nine sons of Peter Leo and Charlotte Ursula (née Daly) Gerety.[3] Since there were no local Catholic schools, he received his early education at public schools in Shelton, including Commodore Isaac Hull School and the Ferry Street School.[4] He graduated from Shelton High School in 1929, and then worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Department of Transportation for three years.[3] In 1932, he began his studies for the priesthood at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.[5] He was sent to continue his studies at Saint-Sulpice Seminary in Issy, France, in 1934.[3]

Priesthood[edit]

On June 29, 1939, Gerety was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Hartford at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.[1] Following his return to Connecticut, he was assigned as a curate at St. John the Evangelist Church in New Haven.[4] In addition to his duties at St. John's, he served as a chaplain at Grace-New Haven Hospital.[4] In 1942, he was appointed a curate at St. Brendan Church and director of Blessed Martin de Porres Center, both in New Haven.[5] The center was an interracial social and religious organization that ministered to the African American Catholic community.[4] In 1956, the center became St. Martin de Porres Parish and Gerety was named its first pastor.[6]

During his tenure at St. Martin's, Gerety became an outspoken advocate for civil rights and supported programs to eliminate poverty.[7] In 1963, he was chosen as coordinator and director of the Diocesan Priests' Conference on Interracial Justice.[7]

Episcopacy[edit]

Portland[edit]

On March 4, 1966, Gerety was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Portland in Maine and titular bishop of Crepedula by Pope Paul VI.[1] He received his episcopal consecration on the following June 1 from Archbishop Henry Joseph O'Brien, with Bishops Daniel Joseph Feeney and John Francis Hackett serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.[1] Due to the failing health of Bishop Feeney, Gerety became apostolic administrator of the diocese on February 18, 1967, assuming responsibility for the daily activities of the diocese.[7]

Upon the death of Bishop Feeney on September 15, 1969, Gerety succeeded him as the eighth Bishop of Portland.[1] During his tenure in Portland, he implemented what were perceived to be the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council by modernizing the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, through the removal of the high altar, cathedra, pulpit, and communion rail.[7] He also provided housing for the elderly and expanded the Diocesan Bureau of Human Relations.[7]

In 1969, Gerety led an unsuccessful campaign against a bill in the state legislature to legalize abortions under certain circumstances.[8] That same year, he called on Maine food retailers to stop selling California grapes in support of the farm workers' dispute with growers.[8] He was one of 14 bishops in New England to sign a statement in 1973 endorsing a boycott of California-grown lettuce in similar dispute.[8] He also defended the rights of conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War and appealed to the Maine congressional delegation to modify the Selective Service Act.[8]

Newark[edit]

Following the retirement of Archbishop Thomas Aloysius Boland, Gerety was appointed the third Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, on April 2, 1974.[1] His installation took place at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on June 28 of that year.[1] He was the first Archbishop of Newark to actually live in the city of Newark; his predecessors lived in the Llewellyn Park section of West Orange.[9]

During his 12-year tenure in Newark, Gerety created the Office of Pastoral Renewal and began a ministry to divorced Catholics.[10] The Office of Pastoral Renewal evolved into RENEW International, an organization now based in Plainfield, New Jersey, that provides faith-sharing resources for small Christian Communities in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and South Africa. Gerety established the Archbishop's Annual Appeal in 1975, and supported the charismatic and ecumenical movements.[10] He also established the Archbishop Gerety Fund for Ecclesiastical History to advance studies in ecclesiastical history, especially the history of Catholicism in the United States.[3]

In 1976, Gerety sent a letter to the Democratic National Convention to protest the party's platform on abortion, which he described as "the bloody horror of the callous elimination of hundreds of thousands of God's most defenseless little ones, our own flesh and blood."[10] That same year, he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on "U.S. Foreign Policy: A Critique from Catholic Tradition," and in 1977, he represented the United States Catholic Conference before the House Ways and Means Committee to offer his view on President Jimmy Carter's "Better Jobs and Income" proposal.[5]

Later life[edit]

Gerety resigned as Archbishop of Newark on June 3, 1986.[1] At that time, he declared, "It is well known that a bishop must resign at the age of 75. I will be 74 years old next month and I told the Holy Father in my letter of resignation that for the good of God's Church and for my own peace of mind, I believe it is time of a younger man to take over the reins of office here in Newark. I have done my best and I am very happy now to step aside."[4] He was succeeded by Bishop Theodore Edgar McCarrick, then serving as Bishop of Metuchen.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. [self-published source]
  2. ^ "Oldest Bishops". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2/4/2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)[self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c d "Archbishop Gerety Lectures". Seton Hall University. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Miele, Ward (2007-06-27). "Happy Birthday Archbishop Gerety Archbishop Reflects on his Ministry". The Catholic Advocate. 
  5. ^ a b c Miele, Ward (2009-06-10). "Archbishop Gerety Marks Seven Decades in Priesthood". The Catholic Advocate. 
  6. ^ "St. Martin de Porres Church". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Most Rev. Peter L. Gerety, D.D.". Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. 
  8. ^ a b c d Blau, Eleanor (1974-04-03). "Archbishop Boland to Retire; Newark Post Going to Gerety". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Cook, Joan (1974-06-27). "New Archbishop Is Settling In at Newark". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ a b c "Most Reverend Peter L. Gerety, D.D.". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. 
  11. ^ "Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. [self-published source]

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Daniel Joseph Feeney
Bishop of Portland
1969 - 1974
Succeeded by
Edward Cornelius O'Leary
Preceded by
Thomas Aloysius Boland
Archbishop of Newark
1974 - 1986
Succeeded by
Theodore Edgar McCarrick
Preceded by
Marion Francis Forst
Oldest Living American Roman Catholic Bishop
June 2, 2007 -
Incumbent
Preceded by
Géry Leuliet
Oldest Living Roman Catholic Bishop
January 1, 2015 -
Incumbent