Archbishop Emeritus Gerety, born in Shelton, became the oldest Catholic Archbishop in the United States on July 19, with the celebration of his 100th birthday.
The Archdiocese in Newark, N.J. held a celebration for Gerety on his birthday. His celebration was held at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and he was the principal celebrant and homilist for a celebratory
Born in Shelton in 1912, Peter Leo Gerety was the oldest of nine sons. Since there were no local Catholic schools in his town, he has credited his parents as one of the major influences on his decision to become a priest.
His mother introduced him to his boyhood parish, St. Joseph’s in Shelton, which served as another source of inspiration.
The future Archbishop entered St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield and was selected to study abroad at St. Sulpice Seminary in Issy, France. Following his ordination, Father Gerety returned to the United States and was assigned to St. John the Evangelist Parish in New Haven. There, in addition to his parish duties, he ministered to the sick at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Throughout his long life, Gerety celebrated significant milestones within the Catholic Church including being appointed a curate at St. Brendan’s Parish and director of the Blessed Martin de Porres Center, an interracial social and religious organization that ministered to the African American Catholic community.
In 1956, the center became the St. Martin de Porres Church and Gerety was named its first Pastor. During his tenure he became an outspoken advocate for civil rights and supported programs to eliminate poverty. Numerous other milestones led to the Archbishop’s service to the ministry, which remained active until 1986. He remains an integral part of the life of the local Church of Newark, presiding over confirmation and masses.