Bishop Kmiec celebrates 50 years of priesthood

Tue, Dec 20th 2011 02:00 pm

In December of 1961, Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" was number one on the album charts, President John F. Kennedy approved of the deployment of U.S. military crews and helicopters to Vietnam and young Edward U. Kmiec of Trenton, N.J. was preparing for his ordination to the priesthood.

His priestly journey would include an assignment as assistant pastor at St. Rose Parish in Belmar, N.J., secretary and master of ceremonies to the bishop of Trenton, and vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Trenton.

Following 12 years as bishop of Nashville, Bishop Kmiec has spent the last seven years as bishop of Buffalo.

"I've had 50 years in the priesthood," Bishop Kmiec said.  "I think the past seven, as bishop of Buffalo, have been the best."

The formal celebration of Bishop Kmiec's jubilee was held Oct. 30, 2011 at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo with a Mass of Thanksgiving.  About 200 priests and deacons took part, with friends and relatives of the bishop making their way to Buffalo from New Jersey, Tennessee and Minnesota.

On Dec. 21, 1961, the bishop celebrated his first Mass at St. Peter's in the Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  He continued his studies and received his S.T.L. degree in 1962 from the Gregorian University in Rome.

When he turned 75 on June 4, 2011, Bishop Kmiec submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI, as required by Canon Law.  The bishop continues to serve the diocese with all the faculties of bishop until the Holy Father accepts Bishop Kmiec's resignations.  At the same time, the pope will name the 14th bishop of Buffalo.

"From the day I walked into the Catholic Center (in 2004), the response here has been fantastic," Bishop Kmiec said.  

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