Most Rev. Peter L. Gerety, D.D.

Most Reverend Peter L. Gerety, D.D., of Portland, Maine was appointed the Third Archbishop of Newark on April 2, 1974 and installed on June 28, 1974. Gerety’s seminary studies were completed at St. Sulpice Seminary in France and he was ordained at Notre Dame in Paris in 1939. During his ascent to the episcopacy his work reflected a cultural unity which was well before its time. He ministered to people of many races and cultures and tried to instill in everyone a spirit of unity.

After his installation in Newark, he continued his crusade to include all peoples into the one Church built by God. In 1974, he made it clear that he would not ignore anyone when he said, “The inner city problems are enormous, but so, too, are those of the folks in the suburbs…The Body of the Archdiocese of Newark is a totality, and a narrow focus will end in disaster.” It was also in this spirit of unity that he began a Ministry to Divorced Catholics because he realized that, “If Christ, Our Lord is interested in suffering people, I think this ministry is of great importance in carrying out the mission of the church.”

He tackled the large Archdiocesan debt which had saddled the Newark Church for many years. In 1975 he began the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, which continues today. This fund drive made it possible to finance the many projects and offices of the See of Newark.

Gerety created the Office of Pastoral Renewal in an effort to help Parishes establish councils. This office began writing a column for The Advocate called, “Parish Life.” The success of these ventures brought about the Renew Program which focused on spirituality in both parish and individual’s lives. Gerety also embraced the Charismatic and Ecumenical Movements. This was done to increase both spirituality and unity, and the effort succeeded in a resurgence of both.

In 1976, Gerety sent a letter to protest the Democratic Party Platform on Abortion at the Democratic National Convention to candidate Jimmy Carter. Gerety made no secret of his feelings on the issue when he defined it as, “the bloody horror of the callous elimination of hundreds of thousands of God’s most defenseless little ones, our own flesh and blood.”

One of the Archbishop’s statements which best sums up his term in office was, “Respect for human life must extend to the unborn, racial minorities, the unemployed, aliens, the aging and dying, the rights of women.” His vision was truly of an all-encompassing Church. Archbishop Gerety retired on June 1, 1986 and died on September 20, 2016.