Retired Archbishop Peter Gerety, World’s Oldest Catholic Bishop, Rests in Peace at 104

Retired Archbishop Peter Gerety, World’s Oldest Catholic Bishop, Rests in Peace at 104

Well done, good and faithful one!

Archbishop Gerety led the Archdiocese of Newark through a period of post Vatican II tumult and continued to guide it, not only until his retirement in the mid-1980's,  but until his death.  He was magnanimously and personally instrumental in helping the spirit of the Council and the Spirit of God take root in the hearts of those he led.


The Most Reverend Peter Leo Gerety
July 19, 1912 – September 20, 2016

Funeral Arrangements

Sunday, September 25 
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart

89 Ridge Street, Newark

3:00 p.m. Reception of the Body
Presider: The Most Reverend John W. Flesey
3:30 – 6:30 p.m. Viewing
7:00 p.m.  Evening Prayer
Presider: Most Reverend Dominic A. Marconi

Monday, September 26  
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart

10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Viewing
3:00 p.m. Funeral Mass
Presider: The Most Reverend John J. Myers

Interment will follow immediately after Mass in the Crypt of the Cathedral Basilica.


At this time of his passing, let our thoughts and prayers be with his family and friends.  And, with grateful hearts, let us be touched and led to continue embracing and making better, as he did, all that our lives touch.

Msgr. Shugrue:  “At that point (when I learned of his appointment as Archbishop of Newark), I had no idea how profoundly my own ministry and the life of the Archdiocese would be affected by our new Shepherd. Suffice it to say that the arrival of Archbishop Gerety initiated an extraordinary period of revitalization for the Archdiocese, as he fulfilled so many hopes for precisely the vigor and enthusiasm we sought. It was a bracing time, as a more activist pastoral vision took hold, with a positive style of leadership that was both spiritually and practically focused. Later, serving in various Archdiocesan capacities, I had opportunities to observe Archbishop Gerety closely, and never failed to be impressed by his commitment to Christ and the Church. In his more than 30 years in very active retirement, Archbishop Gerety continued to be a model for the priests of the Archdiocese, never losing that positive spirit and passion for serving God's People. I am saddened by his death but I rejoice that he now knows the fullness of life in God's presence.”

gerety1Daniel W. O'Brien · "I worked with the Archbishop during the last five years of his episcopate. He took very seriously the mandate of the Second Vatican Council that responsibility for church administration should be shared with the laity. That, in large part, is what enabled him to save the Archdiocese from what, in 1979, seemed an inevitable bankrupcy. He always left things better than he found them."

In Archbishop Gerety’s own words, spoken to National Catholic Reporters correspondent Patricia Lefevere last May on the occasion marking his 50 years as a bishop:

Ordained a bishop in 1966, Gerety said, he

… had to learn quickly how to be a bishop in the new era that was emerging. He said he gleamed much from the pastoral style of John XXIII, who was “not concerned with condemnations,” but who wanted the church to “make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”

While he read and studied the Council’s documents on “the inner-life of the church” and its relations to other faiths, on liturgy and on the Bible, he was drawn most to Gaudium et Spes or the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

The document dealt with “all the joys and sorrows of humankind.” Gerety saw this. In his 20 years as an active bishop, he took his lead from Gaudium et Spes. It prompted him to involve the laity in the work of the Lord in this world. It helped him to see that family life must be strengthened and that separated, divorced and remarried Catholics must not be alienated from their church, but could be ministered to by an office in the archdiocese for those with disrupted marriages.gerety2

As a priest and bishop Gerety was heavily influenced by the Civil Rights Movement. The obituary from the Newark archdiocese says, “He founded an interracial social and religious center, the St. Martin de Porres Center, which became St. Martin de Porres Parish in 1956 with Fr. Gerety as its first pastor. ... He founded the New Haven chapter of the Urban League and was a member of the Connecticut State Committee on Race and Religion and the National Catholic Conference on Interracial Justice.” He continued similar work when he moved to Newark in 1974.

When Lefevere asked him about his legacy, she wrote, “Gerety would not shift even a shoulder into the limelight.”

He said the church is still in “a period of transition and rapid cultural change.” But he cited “the enormous renewal that has occurred, the deepening of prayer life and the involvement of men and women of the laity in the work of the Lord in this world.”

“Love is the test given to us by the Lord Himself,” he said, echoing Jesus’ words: “Love one another as I have loved you. … Where love is absent, He is too.” 

Click here for Lefevere’s complete article: World’s oldest Catholic prelate celebrates 50 years as a bishop.

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