The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is mourning the death of Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety, who served as the eighth bishop of Portland from 1969-1974. He was posted to Portland in 1966 and managed day-to-day affairs as auxiliary bishop until being appointed bishop.

Gerety died Tuesday at age 104. He was the world’s oldest Catholic prelate, and marked his 77th year as a priest and 50th year as a bishop in June.

“Archbishop Gerety was filled with love for the people he served. He loved Maine; its priests; its people; and its beauty, especially the waters of Casco Bay where he loved to sail; and Maine truly loved him,” said Bishop Robert Deeley, from the Portland diocese, in a statement.

Prior to his appointment in Portland, Gerety worked in several parishes in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was an activist for civil rights and advocated for programs for the poor, according to the diocese.

During Gerety’s tenure in Portland, outreach to the poor and underserved increased and he expanded Catholic Charities into a statewide agency.

Gerety was appointed as the third Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, after leaving Maine. He served in Newark for 12 years. During his time there, Gerety grabbed attention by ministering to lapsed Catholics, supporting an active role for women in the church, paying off millions of dollars in diocesan debt and advocating for civil rights, according to

According to the Archdiocese of Newark, Gerety’s term in office is summed up in one of his statements: “Respect for human life must extend to the unborn, racial minorities, the unemployed, aliens, the aging and dying, the rights of women.”

Gerety was born in Connecticut and studied at seminary in France. He was ordained at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1939. Gerety died at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly, operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Totowa, New Jersey, according to

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