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Sacred Heart Church pastor dies

His true calling was to spread the word of the gospel.

Now, after several decades of serving the Lord, a long-tenured pastor has been laid to eternal rest.

The Rev. William T. Campion, pastor emeritus at Sacred Heart Parish in Palmerton, died Sunday at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, Allentown. He was 70.

Campion, of Pottsville, served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church for 14 years until he retired in June.

Cass Chies, altar guild chairperson, who also serves as Sacred Heart Church festival chairperson, described when she first met Campion after he came into the parish.

“He was a very nice man; I knew he was going to do well,” Chies said. “During the years he was there, he was the one that created the altar guild which I chair today; he put together our pastoral council.

Chies said she was saddened to learn of Campion’s death.

“I knew he was ill for quite a while,” she said. “He was a shepherd that really cared about parishioners. He didn’t think of himself, he thought of his parishioners.”

Chies added, “When you come from a parish where ‘this is how we did it before’, and now someone comes in and people don’t like change,” she said. “He always had his hand on everything that was going on, and he was always a step ahead and would always plan ahead so that things would run smoothly.”

Chies spoke of Campion’s caring ways.

“I would miss the personal cards that he would send to you for birthdays and for volunteering at the festival; I always got a handwritten personal note for volunteering, and he would do that for everybody,” she said. “He would call out of the blue every once in a while just to see how you were doing.

“There was always that personalism that he brought. He always did what he needed for the good of the church.”

Louise Koons, who serves as Eucharistic minister and has a variety of duties at Sacred Heart, said Campion’s loss will certainly be felt throughout the church.

“He was a very good priest, very nice man, very caring and compassionate,” Koons said. “When I lost both of my parents at separate times, he knew what a hard time I had and he was just wonderful, very caring; just did all the right things to try to make me feel better.”

When her mother died, Campion gave Koons a Rosary that was blessed by the Pope.

“He was very friendly, always very nice to us,” she said. “He was just a good person.”

The Rev. Christopher Zelonis, SS. Peter and Paul Church, Lehighton, said he, too, was very fond of Campion.

“Father Campion was a joyful, gentle soul, kind to his parishioners, always willing to encourage and advise younger priests,” Zelonis said. “That care seemed to be an organic development of his time as director of the Diocesan youth office.

“Later as a pastor, he mentored a number of seminarians for their summer assignment. He stayed in touch with brother priests and fellow Nativity classmates, and was very close to his family.”

Zelonis said that Campion spoke at his high school graduation from Nativity in 1994, as Campion had graduated from there 25 years before that.

“Although I would run into him from time to time over the years, we got to associate with each other more frequently since my assignment to Lehighton three years ago,” he said. “He would call me every so often just to check in. Occasionally I would give him a ride to Council of Priests meetings and Diocesan functions.”


A graduate of Nativity B.V.M. High School, Campion attended St. Charles Borromeo College, Philadelphia, receiving his B.A. in 1973. Continuing his priestly studies, he obtained his Master of Divinity in 1976 from Mary Immaculate Seminary, Northampton, as well as his Master of Theology in 1977.

Campion was ordained to the Priesthood on May 4, 1977 by the Most Reverend Joseph M. McShea, Bishop of Allentown, at the Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Siena, Allentown.

Upon his ordination, Campion served as Assistant Pastor at Sacred Heart Parish, West Reading; Berks County CYO Director, Scout Regional Chaplain, Regional Vocation Director, and Chaplin to Ancient Order of Hibernians. He worked in several churches, including with youth groups.

In 1991, he was a columnist for the Diocesan Newspaper, the A.D. Times. From 1991 to 1999, Campion served as pastor of St. Canicus & St. Fidelis parishes in Mahanoy City, as well as Dean of Northern Schuylkill County; Diocesan Personnel Committee, and a member of Marian High School Advisory Board and Finance Committee.

From 2002 to 2008, he served as pastor of St. Jerome’s in Tamaqua,

Then, in 2008, Campion was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart in Palmerton, which he served until his June 2022 appointment as pastor emeritus.

Throughout the years, Campion was involved in many church activities and community organizations, including Marian High School Dinner Dance Committee, Mahanoy Area Ministerial Association (past president), Schuylkill County Advisory Board for Alvernia College, Palmerton Area Ministerium-CACPA, chaplain for State Traveler’s Protective Association, Schuylkill County Organizing Project, Association of Schuylkill County Social Services (vice president), chairperson of the Schuylkill County Priest Alumni Scholarship Fund, Schuylkill County YMCA Board of Directors, Schuylkill County Task Force for the Elderly, and Palmerton Chamber of Commerce.

The Rev. Father William Campion