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Peter Leo Gerety

peter leo gerety, archbishop peter leo gerety
Peter Leo Gerety July 19, 1912 – September 20, 2016 was 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 Gerety was the oldest living Catholic bishop in the world at the time of his death at age 104


  • 1 Early life and education
  • 2 Priesthood
  • 3 Episcopacy
    • 31 Portland
    • 32 Newark
  • 4 Later life
  • 5 Death
  • 6 References

Early life and education

Peter Gerety was born in Shelton, Connecticut, the oldest of nine sons of Peter Leo and Charlotte Ursula née Daly Gerety 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 He graduated from Shelton High School in 1929, and then worked for the US Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Department of Transportation for three years In 1932, he began his studies for the priesthood at St Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield He was sent to continue his studies at Saint-Sulpice Seminary in Issy, France, in 1934


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

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



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 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 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

Upon the death of Bishop Feeney on September 15, 1969, Gerety succeeded him as the eighth Bishop of Portland 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 He also provided housing for the elderly and expanded the Diocesan Bureau of Human Relations

In 1969, Gerety led a campaign against a bill in the state legislature to legalize abortions in all circumstances That same year, he called on Maine food retailers to stop selling California grapes in support of the farm workers' dispute with growers 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 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


Following the retirement of Archbishop Thomas Aloysius Boland, Gerety was appointed the third Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, on April 2, 1974 His installation took place at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on June 28 of that year 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

During his 12-year tenure in Newark, Gerety created the Office of Pastoral Renewal and began a ministry to divorced Catholics 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 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

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" That same year, he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on "US 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

Later life

Gerety resigned as Archbishop of Newark on June 3, 1986 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" He was succeeded by Bishop Theodore Edgar McCarrick, then serving as Bishop of Metuchen


He died at Totowa, New Jersey on September 20, 2016, and was the world's oldest living Catholic bishop at the time


  1. ^ a b Mueller, Mark September 21, 2016 "Former Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety, world's oldest Catholic bishop, dead at 104" NJcom Retrieved September 21, 2016 
  2. ^ a b c d "Archbishop Gerety Lectures" Seton Hall University 
  3. ^ a b c d e Miele, Ward June 27, 2007 "Happy Birthday Archbishop Gerety Archbishop Reflects on his Ministry" The Catholic Advocate 
  4. ^ a b c Miele, Ward June 10, 2009 "Archbishop Gerety Marks Seven Decades in Priesthood" The Catholic Advocate 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety" Catholic-Hierarchyorg 
  6. ^ "St Martin de Porres Church" Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Most Rev Peter L Gerety, DD" Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland 
  8. ^ a b c d Blau, Eleanor April 3, 1974 "Archbishop Boland to Retire; Newark Post Going to Gerety" The New York Times 
  9. ^ Cook, Joan June 27, 1974 "New Archbishop Is Settling In at Newark" The New York Times 
  10. ^ a b c "Most Reverend Peter L Gerety, DD" Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark 
  11. ^ "Theodore Edgar Cardinal McCarrick" Catholic-Hierarchyorg 
  12. ^ "World's Oldest Catholic Bishop Dies Age 104" Yahoocom Reuters September 21, 2016 Retrieved September 24, 2016 
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

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