Auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis named as coadjutor of Camden, N.J.

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Pope coadjutor Camden NJ
Bishop Joseph Williams | Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Joseph A. Williams of St. Paul and Minneapolis as coadjutor bishop of Camden, New Jersey, which is currently headed by Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan.

The appointment was publicized in Washington May 21 by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Transition in Camden diocese leadership

As coadjutor, Bishop Williams will automatically succeed Bishop Sullivan when he retires. Bishop Sullivan, 79, a native of the Bronx, New York, is the eighth bishop of Camden. He was installed Feb. 12, 2013. When he turned 75 March 17, 2020, he submitted his resignation to the pope as required by canon law.

A native of Minnesota, Bishop Williams, who turned 50 May 1, was named an auxiliary for St. Paul and Minneapolis by the pope Dec. 10, 2021, and his episcopal ordination was Jan. 25, 2022, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. He is one of the youngest U.S. Catholic bishops.

At the time of his appointment as auxiliary, he was vicar for Latinos in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and served a largely Latino community as a pastor. He has ministered to Spanish-speaking people for most of the 22 years since his priestly ordination.

“I am immensely thankful to Pope Francis for his decision to appoint to the Diocese of Camden a bishop with so much experience as a pastor, and one so familiar with Latino culture. I am also humbled that the Holy Father is allowing me the opportunity to complete my time as the Bishop of Camden working alongside my successor,” said Bishop Sullivan said in a statement.

According to the diocese, Bishop Sullivan has been notified the pope will accept his resignation on his 80th birthday, March 17, 2025.

Enthusiasm for new role

Bishop Williams said he was “overjoyed in coming to a diocese whose Bishop is held in such high esteem by both the faithful and the Holy Father. I look forward to learning from Bishop Sullivan, my brother priests in Camden, the deacons, consecrated women and men and the faithful of South Jersey about their needs and their hopes for the future.”

During a press conference at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Camden about his appointment, the new coadjutor said, “From the inner city to the shoreline, from newly-arrived migrant communities to established farming communities, Camden seems to have it all. What a blessing … to be a part of that.”

“Bloom where you’re planted,” he said, quoting his mother. “I’ve always tried to do that as a priest. I’ve never tried to chart my own course. You say ‘yes’ to the Church and to the Lord when they ask. Now, I get an opportunity to bloom here in South Jersey.”

Bishop Williams’ background and experience

Born May 2, 1974, to Dr. Gary and Mary Williams, Bishop Williams is the third of nine children. He grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota, where he attended St. Croix Catholic School and Stillwater High School.

Bishop Williams holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology from the University of Minnesota Morris, graduating summa cum laude in 1996. He studied philosophy and pre-theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, from 1996 to 1998 and attended the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul from 1998 to 2002, where he earned a master’s of divinity degree. He was ordained a priest for the Minnesota archdiocese by Archbishop Harry J. Flynn.

After ordination, then-Father Williams ministered as a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, 2002-2004, and at Divine Mercy Parish in Faribault, Minnesota, 2004-2005. After that, he was pastor for the next three years of two other parishes in the archdiocese, St. Mathias in Hampton and St. Mary in New Trier.

From 2003 to 2005, he served as coordinator of the archdiocesan outreach to persons with disabilities. He was appointed the archdiocese’s vicar for Latino ministry in 2018. He also has served as chaplain of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

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