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Palmerton priest celebrates milestone

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS  Father William Campion, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Palmerton, recently celebrated his 35th year in the priesthood.
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Father William Campion, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Palmerton, recently celebrated his 35th year in the priesthood.
Published May 24. 2012 05:01PM

He's performed religious rites for the better course of three-and-a-half decades.

Firmly entrenched as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Palmerton, Father William Campion shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

On May 14, Campion celebrated his 35th year in the priesthood, a milestone he said he's extremely grateful to have achieved.

"It's been 35 very happy years," Campion said. "It's not a job; it's life for me."

Campion said he's always intrigued by the newness of each day that is the priesthood.

"Every day of priesthood is very different; my today won't be the same as my tomorrow, and you never know who's coming to your door," he said. "I don't think there's any profession that covers the network of people than the clergy, in both good and bad times."

Above all else, Campion said "celebrating mass is my greatest honor."

Campion said he grew up in Pottsville as part of a devoted Catholic family. He has been involved from the time he was in the third grade, when he served in the boys choir. From fourth grade through high school, he was an altar boy.

It was in his senior year in high school when Campion said he began to pursue the priesthood. That's when Campion said he met two priests; Father Dagle, and Father Dominick, who was a Carmelite.

"When I talked to them, I was challenged," he said. "They told me, 'if you think God is calling you to the priesthood, give Him the first chance.'"

Upon graduation from Nativity B.V.M. High School, Pottsville, Campion attended St. Charles Borromeo College, in Philadelphia.

"There were only 50 of us in my first year class, and we became very, very close, and I felt extremely comfortable," he said. "I've never looked back, and have been very happy."

Campion was quick to credit the parish at Sacred Heart.

"Here, the people have been so wonderful, very supportive, very kind," he said. "I think this parish has a lot of good in it."

As he reflects on his tenure to the priesthood, Campion was quick to pass the credit on to God.

"It's really not about me; it's about Christ working in me," he said. "I really give the credit to God."

Campion received his B.A. from St. Charles Borromeo College in 1973. In 1976, he obtained his Masters from Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton. In 1977, he obtained his Master of Theology, from Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton. In 1978 following, Annual Clergy Workshop, Conferences & Seminars on a variety of Pastoral, Ministerial, Administrative, Financial, and Youth Ministry topics on diocesan, state and national levels.

He began his assignments on May 14, 1977, when he became an Ordained Roman Catholic Priest, at which time he became assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Parish, West Reading. Campion also served as the Berks County C.Y.O. Director, Scout Regional Chaplain, Regional Vocation Director, and Chaplain to Ancient order of Hibernians.

In 1983, he became assistant pastor at St. Jane's, Wilson Boro, where he later served as Regional Scout Director, and Regional Vocation Director.

Then, in 1985, Campion became Diocesan Director of the Catholic Youth Organization, at which time he served as Professor of Theology, Nativity High School; Diocesan Director of Youth Ministry, where he was the first full-time director and established a diocesan office as an umbrella office to oversee all diocesan youth programming, other than those dealing with education, where his primary responsibilities included C.Y.O. Youth Retreats, providing Catholic Scouting & Parish Youth Programming for 153 Diocesan Parishes and 70 Parish and Diocesan Schools, and Chaplain to the Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

In 1989, Campion became chairperson for the Catholic Youth Council of Pennsylvania. In 1991, he served as a columnist for the A.D. Times (Diocesan Newspaper).

From 1991-1999, he was pastor of St. Canicus & St. Fidelis parishes, Mahanoy City; Dean of Northern Schuylkill County; served on the Diocesan Personnel Committee; was on the Marian Catholic High School Advisory Board & Finance Committee; was a Diocesan Teacher Negotiation Team Member; was a Member of the Diocesan Priest Council; and was Chaplain of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

From 1999-2002, Campion served as pastor of St. Anthony's in Easton. From there, he served as pastor of St. Jerome's in Tamaqua. He has been pastor of Sacred Heart in Palmerton since 2008.

Campion's church activities included Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, Knights of Columbus; past member of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry (1985-1991); served on the Catholic Youth Council of Pennsylvania (1985-1990); was a member of the St. Francis Center Advisory Board (1985-1991); Nativity High School Annual Fund Drive (1993-94); Marian High School Dinner Dance Committee (1993-98); past president of the Mahanoy Area Ministerial Association; past member of the Schuylkill County advisory board for Alvernia College, and Chaplain for Golden Age of Easton (1999-2002).

His community activities included a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (1984-FF); past board member of the Schuylkill County Organizing Project, where he served on the Personnel & Bylaw committee (1985-1990); member and vice president of the Association of Schuylkill County Social Services (1988-1991); chairperson of the Schuylkill County Priest Alumni Scholarship Fund (1987-1991); served on the board of directors of Big Brothers and Big Sisters (1989-1995); served on the Champ Racis YMCA Committee (1994-96); served on the Schuylkill County YMCA board of directors (1997-2000); was the State Traveler's Protective Association Chaplain (1999); was president of the Board of Antonian Towers, and member of the Schuylkill County Task Force for the Elderly (2006-08).

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