Bishop Saltarelli served as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington from Nov. 21, 1995 until July 7, 2008. The diocese encompasses Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore. He made significant contributions on national Catholic discussions concerning the sanctity of human life in all its stages as well as the need to reach out to inactive Catholics. He was an active member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), serving on numerous committees.
In accordance with Church law, Bishop Saltarelli offered his resignation as Bishop of Wilmington to the Holy Father when he turned 75. On July 7, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Bishop Saltarelli's resignation and appointed Bishop Malooly as his successor.
Many in the Archdiocese of Newark fondly recall Bishop Saltarelli, who was ordained as an auxiliary bishop of Newark July 30, 1990, and also was given the title of "Titual Bishop of Mesarfelta."
"I believe Bishop Saltarelli embodied the priestly ideal-he not only represented Christ to people, he also saw Christ in everyone he met," Archbishop John J. Myers said on learning the news of Bishop Saltarelli's passing. "I am grateful that I too came to know this holy man who influenced and helped deepen the faith of so many people in this archdiocese and in Wilmington."
Bishop Saltarelli was born in Jersey City on Jan. 17, 1932-the fifth of seven children of Angelo Michael and Caroline Marzitello Saltarelli. He attended Holy Rosary Parish and Elementary School and Ferris High School in Jersey City and received a bachelor of arts degree from Seton Hall University, South Orange in 1956. He continued his studies in theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington. In 1975, he received a master's degree in Religious Studies from Manhattan College.
Ordained to the priesthood at then-Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark on May 28, 1960, he was assigned to Holy Family Parish, Nutley, where he became a favorite priest of the large Italian-American community.
After serving at Holy Family for 17 years, he was appointed pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Bayonne, on Aug. 22, 1977. He was there until August 1982 when Archbishop Peter L. Gerety appointed him as the archdiocesan executive director for pastoral services. Two years later Pope John Paul II named him a "Prelate of Honor" with the title monsignor.
On June 1, 1985 he was appointed pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Cedar Grove, and then was tapped one year later by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick as the archdiocesan vicar for priests. He also was the state chaplain for the NJ Knights of Columbus.
Most Rev. Thomas A. Donato, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark and the pastor of Saint Henry Parish, Bayonne, said his family was close with the Saltarelli family during their years growing up in Jersey City. Their paths crossed many times as both men answered their respective calling to the priesthood.
"Bishop Saltarelli was a deacon at Darlington seminary when I was there as a junior philosopher," Bishop Donato recalled. He described Bishop Saltarelli as a friend and mentor. "I succeed him as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption. He was a lovable man and endeared by all the priests of the archdiocese. When he was installed as Bishop in Wilmington, many priests from our archdiocese, including me, went to his episcopal ordination."
Father Michael A. Hanly, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake, Verona, met then-Father Saltarelli right after he arrived at Holy Family in June 1960. Fr. Hanly, at the time, had just graduated from Nutley High School.
He vividly recalled an experience that helped him connect with "Father Salt." Fr. Hanly and his friends would spend time in the Holy Family schoolyard during the summer evenings and Fr. Saltarelli often would come out to talk with the teens.
"One night Father Salt said he wanted to go out to eat to a place he had heard about called Rutts Hut," Fr. Hanly said. Rutts Hut, a venerable NJ establishment still located in Clifton (a short drive from Nutley), is famous for its deep-fried "ripper" hot dogs.
"He drove us to Rutts Hut and on the ride there we listened to Cousin Brucie play rock and roll on the radio-and Father Salt knew all the songs!"
Fr. Hanly entered Seton Hall University in the fall of 1960. Fr. Saltarelli proved to be a strong influence on Fr. Hanly, who decided in his junior year to enter the seminary. "I wanted to be like him," Fr. Hanly said. "He was my role model-the best example of what a parish priest should be. He had a tremendous love for the priesthood. He had a presence about him and the ability to touch people in the deepest places in their hearts." Fr. Hanly was ordained in 1967.
(Editor's note: The Diocese of Wilmington, DE, provided information for this story. The diocese is planning a series of public services for Bishop Saltarelli. Check The Catholic Advocate's Web site-www.rcan.org/advocate-for details.)
Schedule of services for Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli, 1932-2009
Three days of public services for Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli, who died Oct. 8, will be held starting Monday, Oct. 12 at Saint Elizabeth Parish, 809 South Broom St., Wilmington, DE. Bishop W. Francis Malooly, bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, will be principal celebrant at all masses.
Monday, Oct. 12:
Bishop Saltarelli's body will be received at Saint Elizabeth Parish at 1 p.m. and will lie in state for a public viewing until 7:30 p.m., when Mass will be celebrated. Msgr. J. Thomas Cini, vicar general for administration, will give the homily.
Tuesday, Oct. 13:
Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., open to the public, but especially for students in Catholic schools. Rev. Msgr. Clement Lemon, vicar for priests, will be the homilist. Public viewing will continue until 7:30 p.m., when another Mass will be celebrated, with Rev. Msgr. Joseph Rebman, vicar for pastoral services, as homilist.
Wednesday, Oct. 14:
Additional public viewing from 10 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m., followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 1 p.m., with Bishop John Barres of Allentown, PA, as homilist. Burial will follow at All Saints Cemetery, 6001 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington.
For additional information, visit the Diocese of Wilmington's Web site: www.cdow.org