Actual, physical books may not be as prominent as they once were, but the Diocese of Wilmington has produced two books to mark its 150th anniversary, and the chancellor believes they are compelling enough to draw people’s attention.
The first is a coffee-table book called “Rejoicing in the Lord,” a keepsake commemorative about the history of the diocese. The concept of creating such a book came about approximately two years ago through a group convened to discuss ideas for the sesquicentennial, said Father Joseph McQuaide, the chancellor and co-chair of the diocesan Sesquicentennial Committee.
He said Father John Klevence, the pastor of St. Ann’s Parish in Bethany Beach, had an uncle who was a priest in the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., which had such a book. Father Klevence told the group he would like to see a similar product for Wilmington. Father McQuaide said that led them to Editions du Signe in France, which has published similar books for more than 100 American dioceses.
The 336-page book is divided into 11 chapters, beginning with the arrival of the first Catholic settlers in the colony of Maryland in 1634. The first chapter begins that year and goes through the American Revolution. The second chapter picks up there and covers the period until 1868, when the Diocese of Wilmington was established.
“The last nine chapters are divided based on the tenures of our nine bishops, beginning with Bishop Becker in 1868, and since 2008, Bishop Malooly,” Father McQuaide said.
Each chapter has some information about what was occurring at the time. Most of those were written by Father McQuaide. Father Richard Jasper, associate pastor of St. Ann’s Parish in Wilmington, wrote the chapter on Bishop Alfred A. Curtis because he has a devotion to him, and diocesan director of communications Robert Krebs penned the sections on the two most recent bishops, Michael A. Saltarelli and Francis Malooly.
Previous histories, primarily those authored by Father Thomas Peterman, were consulted, as were parish histories. In the spring of 2017, each parish was asked to submit a history as well as any photographs they wanted to be considered for publication.
“Each church is profiled. Each church has a two-page spread that has its history … as well as pictures of the parishes,” Father McQuaide said.
His father, a freelance photographer, traveled to each church for interior and exterior shots.
In addition to the parishes, there are features about various components of the diocese. Catholic Charities, Catholic Youth Ministry, The Dialog, the Knights of Columbus, the St. Thomas More Society and the San Marcos partnership are among those. Two priests also are included. They are Father Paul Wattson, a native of the diocese who is being considered for sainthood, and Father Roberto Balducelli, the Italian Oblate of St. Francis de Sales who was affiliated with St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Wilmington for more than 75 years.
Susan Kirk Ryan, the diocesan archivist, supplied many of the images, and all of the text and photos were emailed to the publisher in France.
“Now, a year and half later, we have the book. It’s going to be available from most parishes, and from the diocesan office,” Father McQuaide said.
‘Family of Faith’
Reading material directed at a younger audience also is available. A 36-page illustrated comic book entitled “Family of Faith” is in parishes as well. The book has an international flavor.
Materials were sent to the author in Seattle, Wash. She wrote the script for the book, and Father McQuaide and others edited it and made suggestions for changes. A French artist came up with the illustrations, and a woman in Poland did the coloring.
The idea for the comic book came from Editions du Signe. It begins with the arrival of the first Catholics in America.
“The company said, ‘Besides this, we can also do the comic book history.’ We saw a sample of other dioceses. We thought that … the history should be shared with the young children,” Father McQuaide said.
He said the Catholic elementary schools in the diocese might be able to work the book into their histories of Delaware and Maryland. It will be up to the schools to make that decision.
“Hopefully, they’ll be in every school library.”
“Rejoicing in the Lord” is available for $40 each, and “Family of Faith” is sold for $18. To purchase one or both books, parishioners are asked to call, email or visit their local parish office or contact the diocesan chancery.