A grateful bishop is honored and praised

Among family, friends and his co-workers in God’s vineyard, Joseph Anthony Galante celebrated the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 10, here at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

There was his diocesan secretary, Dolores Orihel, and other chancery workers; his friend from seminary, Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas; his successor here in Camden, Bishop Dennis Sullivan; and faithful Catholics grateful for his ministry in Rome, Texas and New Jersey.

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Sullivan and Bishop Pepe were Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, priests of the Camden Diocese and friends of Bishop Galante. They were assisted by Deacon Richard Maxwell and Deacon Michael Carter, who had each worked closely with Bishop Galante.

In front of the altar of the Cathedral, which he called home for nine years before resigning in 2013 for health reasons, Bishop Galante called his time in South Jersey “my happiest years as bishop,” and expressed his gratitude for “all who have touched my life, mentored me, and nurtured me.”

Clergy process into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden, for Mass celebrating Bishop Joseph Galante’s 25th episcopal anniversary on Dec. 10. Photos by Mike Walsh

Today, dealing with kidney troubles, weak hips and knees, and a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer, he lives quietly in his home in Atlantic County, “in the ministry of the contemplation, and offering up my prayers and reflection to you, the Diocese of Camden,” he told his audience.

Telling the honored that “I wouldn’t be where I am today” without his friendship, Joseph Pepe, Bishop Galante’s classmate at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and now bishop of Las Vegas, recalled their seminary days, their formation and, every Friday, making spaghetti in Bishop Galante’s mother’s house.

Bishop Pepe praised Bishop Galante’s “warmth, concern and love for others. A friend is one who is with us through obstacles, struggles, successes, and joys of accomplishment, and you are a perfect friend.”

“Through your ministry, you have helped others understand Jesus’ embracing presence, loving word, and mercy and forgiveness. Today, we honor and thank you for the many gifts you have given us,” he said.

Calling his predecessor “a brother and a father” to those he encountered, Bishop Sullivan said the day was a “moment for all of us to reflect on God’s goodness.”

“We’re grateful for your ministry,” he said, adding that Bishop Galante has “labored to reveal the presence of the Lord” and “cared for your flocks in Jesus’ name by leading them, teaching them and sanctifying them.”

Bishop Galante had the last words, thankful for those who, in turn, came to Camden last Sunday to thank him.

“I have words of thanks, but ‘thank you’ is inadequate; it doesn’t express what’s in my heart,” he said.