Bishop Malooly, dozens of priests, deacons, religious women and several hundred worshippers got ahead of a pending winter storm in celebrating Mass for the closing of the sesquicentennial of the Diocese of Wilmington.
A soft snow began falling at the end of the Mass at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington as the diocese marked the conclusion of yearlong celebrations to recognize its 150th anniversary.
“We have had a wonderful year of remembrance, not only celebrating our 150th but looking back to our roots of Catholicism which began 315 years ago in Old Bohemia with the Jesuits at St. Francis Xavier and recalling the hard work and steady growth of the church during those early years on the Eastern Shore of Maryland,” Bishop Malooly said in his homily.
The bishop gave thanks for the occasions of the last year in celebrating the sesquicentennial, including a pilgrimage to Annecy and Rome, visits to stational churches, a large gathering at a convocation last fall in Ocean City, Md., a retreat for priests, two commemorative books, a rosary and the Our Lady of Wilmington portrait.
“Our theme was, rejoice in the Lord,” the bishop said. “My sense is we did that well even as we navigate through difficult times in the Catholic Church.
“We share that joy as an invitation to encourage others to join us. The ongoing challenges and goal during these final years of my watch is to continue to be welcoming and hospitable to all, to witness the great news of Jesus, to celebrate his presence with us in the Eucharist, and utilize the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit that can be unleashed in each of us.”
Bishop Malooly is the ninth bishop of Wilmington and marked 10 years leading the diocese last September. He turned 75 in January and submitted his resignation to Pope Francis as required by canon law. The pope is not obligated to accept it.
The Mass featured a joint choir from Saint Elizabeth and the Cathedral of Saint Peter, embellished with brass and timpani. Members of the Knights of Columbus also took part in the service.
“Ten and one half years ago I asked you to walk with me,” Bishop Malooly said. “You have done so remarkably well. Thank all of you for making this a most memorable and meaningful year for the Diocese of Wilmington and a continued wonderful tenure for me as the ninth Bishop of Wilmington.”
A group of people who completed their sesquicentennial “passports” were recognized at Mass. The passport was stamped at each of nine historic churches in the diocese, which hosted Mass the first Saturday of each month during the sesquicentennial year.
Those receiving awards for the achievement were Jerry Alan and Michel Peco Bilton, Joseph O. And Veronica E. Birmingham, John and Darlene Cahill, Thomas and Ann Carter, Betty DiFilippo, Patricia and Wayne Dooley, James and Charlotte Dugar, Edward and Pat Fitzgerald, Michael J. Garrison, Betty L. Gregg, Vincent (Jim) and Marlene Jacono, Edward H. Joyner, III, Father Brian S. Lewis, Stephen, Katie, Natalie, Stephen McKinley, Dorothy Onizuk, Priscilla Onizuk, Rebecca J. Onizuk, Michael and Mary Solomon, Dorothy Snyder, Bonifacio M. and Mary Mae A. Tee, Jane Tralka, Joseph and Lisa Whelan.