Most Reverend Thomas J. Welsh, D.D., J.C.D.
President, Fr. Walter Ciszek Prayer League

In the afternoon of February 19, 2009 the Most Reverend Bishop Thomas Welsh, retired bishop of Allentown, and president of the Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League entered into his eternal rest, and he will be truly missed by members of the league. We are so grateful to have had his leadership for over the past number of years.

Bishop Welsh had been president of the League since 1998, after retiring as Bishop of Allentown. Before that, he had already taken an active role in promoting the cause of Father Ciszek, as the Bishop of Allentown, and as a Board member. In 1993, Bishop Welsh was the homilist at the liturgy for the celebration of the ninth annual Father Ciszek Day.

In speaking of Father Ciszek during his homily in 1993, Bishop Welsh expressed confidence that the beatification of Father Ciszek might be soon in coming, in the not too distant future. He regarded Father Ciszek as a good role model for all who hoped to be saved, for he was a priest “not perfect, but one who ended well.” Bishop Welsh claimed that the central lesson for us from Father Ciszek’s life can be helpful today: “….I had learned, to the depth of my shaken soul, how totally I depended on him for everything in my survival and how foolish had been my reliance upon self.” (Words taken from He Leadeth Me, pp 81ff.)

Bishop Welsh was born on December 20, 1921 in Weatherly, Pennsylvania. He attended grade school and high school there, before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in May, 1946; he was named a Monsignor in 1965, and a year later became rector of the St. Charles Seminary. He became an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia in 1970.

In June of 1974, Bishop Welsh was appointed the founding bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. Upon the retirement of the founding bishop of Allentown, Bishop Welsh came back to “home territory” to be installed as Second Bishop of Allentown on March 21, 1983.

Bishop Welsh was a pro-life advocate who established a “Stand Up for Life” campaign in the diocese, and he provided for “marriage preparation dialogues” to help couples preparing for marriage. He established the first Youth Ministry Office in the diocese and raised funds for diocesan Catholic schools.

In December of 1997, Pope John Paul II accepted Bishop Welsh’s resignation as Bishop of Allentown. Since that time, Bishop Welsh had been active in many ways, but most importantly for us he directed the work of our prayer league. May God grant him a well earned eternal rest.

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