Bp. Gumbleton promoted solidarity

Bp. Gumbleton

DETROIT (OSV News) — Whether it was speaking out against injustice, ministering to those on society’s margins or accompanying communities afflicted by geo-political catastrophes, retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton traveled great lengths to express his solidarity with people on the periphery of society.

An outspoken champion of social justice causes who traveled far and wide in support of peace efforts, Bishop Gumbleton died April 4 at the age of 94.

On June 2, 1956 he was ordained a priest at Detroit’s Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament by Cardinal Edward A. Mooney.

Father Gumbleton served as associate pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Dearborn, when Cardinal John F. Dearden appointed him assistant chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit.


In 1964, he was sent to study at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, where he received a doctorate in canon law. Upon his return to Detroit, he was promoted to vice chancellor by Cardinal Dearden, and Pope St. Paul VI elevated him to the rank of monsignor. He also took up the role of administrator of Holy Ghost Parish in Detroit in 1967.

Msgr. Gumbleton played an active role in the governance of the archdiocese, serving as the acting director of the archdiocesan Community Affairs Department, chairman of the Building Commission, and leader of the Urban Parish Apostolate and Project Equality, a program initiated by Cardinal Dearden to fight poverty in Detroit.

On March 8, 1968, Pope Paul VI appointed him the 10th auxiliary bishop of Detroit.

He was the 1979 recipient of the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in Davenport.

After surpassing the age of 75, when bishops are required to tender their resignation to the pope, Bishop Gumbleton retired from active episcopal duties in 2006.

However, Bishop Gumbleton was asked to continue as administrator of St. Leo Parish in Detroit, where he had served as pastor for another year.

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