Year-long sesquicentennial celebration to begin March 3, 2018

150 CDOW logo RGBDiocese of Wilmington announces plans for year-long sesquicentennial celebration

150thanniversary year to run from March 3, 2018 to March 3, 2019 

March 2, 2017 – (Wilmington, Delaware) — The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has announced plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding with a year-long celebration that will include special Masses and prayer services, pilgrimages, a keepsake-publication, a traveling exhibit, and a Eucharistic Congress. The Diocese of Wilmington was established on March 3, 1868 by Blessed Pope Pius IX.  

A sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) committee, composed of clergy and laity, has been meeting for over a year. A logo and the slogan – “Rejoicing in the Lord since 1868” – have been developed and will be used leading up to and throughout the year. The slogan was chosen in honor of the Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, whose episcopal motto is “Rejoice in the Lord.”  

The celebration year will open with a Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Wilmington on Saturday, March 3, 2018.  

In April of that year, a pilgrimage to Annecy and Rome will take place. Annecy, the birthplace of Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of the Diocese of Wilmington, is an alpine town in southeastern France, where Lake Annecy feeds into the Thiou River. It’s known for its cobbled streets, winding canals, and pastel-colored houses. Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display, including ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum. It is the home of Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, as well as the burial place of Blessed Pope Pius IX, the diocese’s founder.

On October 6, 2018, as part of the sesquicentennial observances, the annual diocesan Marian Pilgrimage will take place at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Shrine at Holy Spirit Church in New Castle, Delaware. A Eucharistic Congress is to be held in the fall of 2018 that will bring Catholics from across Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore together to learn, celebrate, and pray. 

In January 2019, services will be held to recognize the contributions of men and women religious, honor Saint John Neumann – who ministered in the Diocese of Wilmington, and pray for Christian unity. 

A closing Mass is being planned for Sunday, March 3, 2019. 

Throughout the 12-month period, regional celebrations will be held, as well as pilgrimages to historic churches in the diocese. A traveling exhibition, featuring artifacts and historic documents, will be at all of the major and regional celebrations. A coffee-table style keepsake book featuring diocesan and parish history and photographs will be published, along with a graphic history of the diocese. 

“The celebration of our sesquicentennial year gives us many opportunities to come together as a diocese to honor our rich past and look to our bright future,” said Bishop Malooly. “Every deanery, parish, church, and Catholic in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore will have an opportunity to participate in 150th anniversary activities. It will be a time of joyful thanks to God for our countless blessings and prayer for the future of the Diocese of Wilmington.” 

As it becomes available, detailed information about the 150th anniversary celebration will be posted on the Diocese of Wilmington’s website, 

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.


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Contact: Bob Krebs
[email protected]