Former Allentown Bishop Thomas Welsh remembered

February 28, 2009 2:25:43 PM PST
The former longtime Roman Catholic bishop of Allentown was remembered Saturday as a "teacher of faith" in a funeral Mass attended by 18 bishops and about 200 priests. Retired Bishop Thomas Welsh died Feb. 18 at age 87. "For many years, Bishop Welsh was a faithful lover of prayer.

He was a teacher of faith," said Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, who led the Mass of Christian Burial at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown.

"Today, we witness his last great contribution to all these dioceses in which he served. This is his last great act of prayer with us," Rigali said.

Welsh served as Allentown's second bishop from 1983 to 1998. During his tenure, he created the local "Stand Up for Life" campaign, established the diocese's Youth Ministry Office and raised $13 million in an endowment campaign for education. Even in retirement, he continued to perform many of the confirmations in the five-county Allentown diocese.

He was ordained in 1946 and later served as an auxiliary bishop in the Philadelphia archdiocese. In 1974, he was named the founding bishop of the Arlington diocese in Virginia.

In addition to the many church leaders at Saturday's service, Welsh was remembered by relatives and religious men and women from across the diocese.

"I think that is a sign of how well received Bishop Welsh was in his life," said Bishop Edward P. Cullen, who succeeded Welsh in Allentown.

Welsh died at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest after a short illness. He was to be buried in his hometown of Weatherly in Carbon County.

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Information from: The Morning Call, http://www.mcall.com

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