Father Paul J. Campbell, pastor of St. Christopher Church in Chester, Md., since 2015, died Feb. 3 after a brief illness. He was 66.
Father Campbell was a native of Wilmington, graduating from Christ Our King and Salesianum schools. He entered the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and attended De Sales University and De Sales Theological College in Washington, D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia in June 1982.
Bishop Malooly informed parishioners at St. Christopher of Father Campbell’s passing in a letter Sunday.
“I am saddened to have to inform you that our brother priest, your pastor, Father Paul Campbell, passed away this evening at 5:44 p.m. as a result of the stroke that he suffered Friday evening,” Bishop Malooly wrote. “I ask that you please keep Father Paul and his family in your prayers as well as your fellow parishioners at St. Christopher’s. Please know of my prayers and that of our entire diocese which are afforded you at this time.”
Father Campbell began his ministry in education, teaching at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla., before moving to Father Judge High School in Philadelphia and, in 1986, Salesianum. He was a member of the faculty there until 1995.
That year, he was appointed associate pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Wilmington. The next year, he was received into the Diocese of Wilmington and was transferred to Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Easton, Md., as associate pastor. He also served in the same role at St. Francis de Sales in Salisbury, Md., and St. Joseph, Middletown.
In 2006, he became the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Chestertown, Md., where he remained until his move to St. Christopher.
Father Campbell was born in Wilmington on Dec. 23, 1952, the son of the late Clarence Paul and Helen Theresa Tucker Campbell. Father Campbell is survived by his sister Claire Stecher and her husband John of Wilmington; brother David C. Campbell and his wife, Karen of Carmel, Indiana; three nieces Jennifer and Maria Stecher and Anne Marie Campbell; and nephew David Campbell.
He enjoyed writing and his work had previously appeared frequently in the Dialog as a contributing writer.
Father Joseph Piekarski, pastor of St. John the Beloved in Wilmington, said he’s been friends with Father Campbell since the mid-1990s and described him as a “grassroots” priest.
“Paul was really a teacher,” Father Piekarski said. “He carried over his Oblate roots as a teacher. He was very articulate. His homilies would always give a lesson.”
Father Campbell was very athletic and enjoyed golf, fishing and other sports, Father Piekarski said, adding that his friend was “very good with children” and “related to the challenges of adolescents” and people in general.
“I always saw him as someone who was knowledgeable of people and the problems of people,” Father Piekarski said. He said Father Campbell enjoyed Kent Island, liked to travel and knew a lot of people.
“He was well-versed in their lives and ministered as a grassroots priest,” Father Piekarski said.
Another friend, Father Robert Wozniak, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Wilmington, said Father Campbell held dearly the initiatives of Vatican II.
“He was someone who, as a pastor, believed very much in enabling parishioners to be involved and accept responsibility for their parish.”
“He was very outgoing and just a pleasant person to be with,” Father Wozniak said.
Funeral arrangements are as follows: Visitation 3-7 p.m., Feb. 8, and 9:30-11 a.m., Feb. 9 at St. Christopher Church, Chester, Md. Mass of Christian Burial 11 a.m. at the church. Interment is 10:30 a.m. Feb. 11, Cathedral Cemetery, Wilmington.