Home Our Diocese Diocese of Wilmington mourns loss of Msgr. Joseph F. Rebman, 85, longtime...

Diocese of Wilmington mourns loss of Msgr. Joseph F. Rebman, 85, longtime priest and leader

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Msgr. Joseph F. Rebman, pastor of St. Joseph on the Brandywine, retired from active ministry May 10 after 61 years as a priest in the Diocese of Wilmington. Dialog photo/Don Blake

Longtime Diocese of Wilmington priest, pastor and administrator Msgr. Joseph F. Rebman died the afternoon of Oct. 3, according to the diocesan chancery.

Msgr. Rebman was 85 when he retired last spring as pastor of St. Joseph on the Brandywine. Born Dec. 6, 1935, he had been a priest in the diocese for 61 years.

“You have earned a position of high esteem in the Diocese of Wilmington through your tireless commitment,” Bishop Malooly said at Msgr. Rebman’s retirement in April. “Whether in the church or in the chancery your service has stood out as a true gift from the Lord that has touched so very many people’s lives. For this I am grateful.”

Pastor at St. Joseph’s more than 21 years, Msgr. Rebman served in numerous jobs in the diocese including chancellor, vicar general and judicial vicar. He is a longtime member and past president of the national Catholic Cemetery Conference.

His resume lists almost every important role a priest can fulfill.

Eight popes led the church in his lifetime. Seven bishops had been in charge of the diocese, including Bishop Edmund FitzMaurice, who was bishop when Joseph Francis Rebman was born in Wilmington Dec. 6, 1935 as a member of Cathedral of St. Peter parish.

He met two popes in his lifetime, both saints, John XXIII during his seminary years in Rome and John Paul II years later.

“I am so proud to have been pastor of this historic and faith-filled parish dedicated to St. Joseph for over 21 years,” he said in a letter to the parish last spring.

Funeral services are not yet complete.