Sesquicentennial celebration for Diocese of Wilmington to begin March 3

February 25, 2018

The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington will mark the beginning of its year-long 150th anniversary celebration with a Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Sixth and West streets in the historic Quaker Hill section of Wilmington, beginning at noon, Saturday, March 3. The Most Rev. W. Francis Malooly, ninth bishop of Wilmington, will be the principal celebrant and homilist of the concelebrated mass. The Diocese of Wilmington was established March 3, 1868, by Blessed Pope Pius IX.

"God has richly blessed us with many gifts over the last century and a half," said Malooly. "The Lord has been with us through many joys and challenges, and we pray with confidence that God will continue to be with our diocese in the years ahead. Our 150th anniversary is the perfect time to give thanks for our past, and recommit ourselves to the work of the Gospel now and in the future."

Priests, deacons, religious, the lay faithful and the general public are invited to attend the mass that will include blessing of certificates designating 10 churches in Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore as Official Sesquicentennial Pilgrimage Churches. Those churches are Saint Francis Xavier Shrine, Old Bohemia, Warwick, Md., (1704); Saint Joseph Mission, Cordova, Md., (1765); Saint Peter the Apostle, Queenstown, Md., (1765); Saint Mary Star of the Sea, Golden Hill, Md., (1767); Saint Peter the Apostle, New Castle, (1804); Cathedral of Saint Peter, Wilmington, (1816); Saint Patrick, Pilottown, Md., (1819); Saint Joseph on the Brandywine, Greenville, (1841); Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Wilmington, (1858); and Sacred Heart Oratory, Wilmington, (1874). These historic churches will be open for additional touring and worship on the first Saturdays of the month during the 150th anniversary year.

A gathering of Catholics from across the diocese has been announced for Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Ocean City Convention Center in Ocean City, Md. Titled Convocation 150, the gathering will include a keynote presentation, breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, prayer and mass. The gathering will be an opportunity to celebrate, affirm, and deepen the Catholic community's commitment to discipleship rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Other activities during the 150th anniversary year include a pilgrimage to Annecy, France, and Rome, Italy; a prayer service to honor the Religious Men and Women of the Diocese; Masses in honor of Saints John Neumann and Francis de Sales; an ecumenical prayer service for Christian unity; and a closing mass scheduled for Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Throughout the 12-month period, regional celebrations will be held. A traveling exhibition featuring artifacts and historic documents is being planned. A coffee table-style keepsake book featuring diocesan and parish history and photographs, as well as a graphic history book of the diocese, will be published in the spring. A commemorative keepsake rosary has been commissioned and should be available around Easter.

At the request of Bishop Malooly, the Vatican Apostolic Penitentiary has granted a Plenary Indulgence with the usual conditions to those who participate in specified sesquicentennial observances.

"It is exciting to be so close to the beginning of our sesquicentennial celebration," said the Very Rev. Joseph W. McQuaide IV, chancellor of the Diocese of Wilmington and co-chair of the 150th Anniversary Committee. "For 150 years, our diocese has been spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, and rejoicing in the Lord."  McQuaide, whose ancestral roots go back many generations on the Delmarva Peninsula, said, "Our diocese is the place where our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents lived and worshiped. We are excited to celebrate all the good things that have happened over the last 150 years, and look forward in hope to continuing that good work."

For detailed information throughout the year about the 150th anniversary celebration, go to The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington comprises 56 parishes, 18 missions and 36 schools serving the State of Delaware and the nine counties of Maryland's Eastern Shore. There are over 244,000 Catholics in the diocese.