Dear Friends in Christ:
Over the last seven years, I have been blessed to travel across this great diocese to celebrate the sacraments with the wonderful people of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore in their parish churches and missions.
Each of the churches in our diocese is uniquely beautiful in appearance and spirit. We have quaint chapels in quiet towns that serve watermen, farmers and migrant workers; we have large, growing churches that bustle with children and their families; we have resort churches that welcome many thousands of out-of-town vacationers each weekend; we have ethnic churches that honor immigrant ancestors and those that serve recent arrivals who search for the freedom and prosperity that our country offers; we have aging church communities that offer a place of prayer, peace and comfort to their mostly elderly parishioners.
I would like to talk about one of these churches that holds a special place in the heart of the Diocese of Wilmington — the Cathedral of Saint Peter. A cathedral is the church that contains the chair or cathedra of the bishop of the diocese and is the bishop’s own church. Since the founding of the Diocese of Wilmington in 1868, Saint Peter’s has had that distinction. Nine bishops, including such notable men as Thomas Becker, Alfred Curtis, Robert Mulvee and Michael Saltarelli, have called the Cathedral of Saint Peter our own.
It is a beautiful building with breathtaking stained glass windows and statuary. My favorite features of the Cathedral are the gold and maroon rosettes that cover the arched ceiling, and the larger-than-life statue of Our Lord on the cross at Calvary that is above the rear altar.
Saint Peter’s was built almost 200 years ago — 50 years before the founding of the Diocese of Wilmington — when Delaware was part of the growing Diocese of Philadelphia. Father Patrick Kenny, an Irish-born priest, was its first pastor and there are a number of immigrant powder mill workers interred on the grounds.
Today, the wonderful and dedicated Cathedral of Saint Peter parish community strives to keep the church a place of beauty and history in the Quaker Hill area of the City of Wilmington and a source of charity and learning in a neighborhood that has been challenged by poverty and crime in recent decades. The Cathedral of Saint Peter School serves children, many who are underprivileged, who go on to be successful in high school, college and beyond. The charitable outreach efforts of the parish assist their neighbors in times of need. However, in recent years, the active and spirited parish population has dwindled to the point that they can no longer support their parish ministries while at the same time addressing the growing maintenance needs of the historic building. That is why I am asking for your help.
With the strong support of the pastors of the diocese, I have instituted an annual second collection for the maintenance of the Cathedral of Saint Peter. Each August, beginning the weekend of August 22 and 23, 2015, you will have the opportunity to help preserve and maintain our Cathedral and I pray that you will be as generous as possible. It is the cathedral of Bishops Becker and Saltarelli, but most importantly; it is your Cathedral whether you live in Claymont or Westover, or near the shores of the Chesapeake or the Atlantic.
I invite you to visit your Cathedral of Saint Peter for Mass or to just look around and absorb the beauty and history. To find out more about the Cathedral, visit the Cathedral website at cathedralofstpeter.com or the diocesan website at cdow.org.
May God bless you for your continued generosity.
Sincerely in Our Lord,
Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly
Bishop of Wilmington