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Most Rev. Victor Benito Galeone

Deceased: 2023-05-29


Seminary Graduation Year: 1961

ICTE Fall: 1984

Bishop Emeritus Victor Galeone, a former Archdiocese of Baltimore priest who served as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., died May 29 at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville. He was 87.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Baltimore, Bishop Galeone attended St. Charles College in Catonsville, St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, and the Pontifical North American College at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he was ordained in 1960.

Bishop Victor Galeone attended seminary at St. Charles College in Catonsville. A funeral Mass will be held for Bishop Galeone June 2 at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged. (CR file)
Praised by many as a humble and holy priest, Bishop Galeone held many different assignments over the years, including parish priest, missionary, high school teacher and later, bishop.

“Whatever assignment he was given, he was enthusiastic about it,” said Monsignor James Farmer, a good friend of Bishop Galeone for more than 40 years. “He loved being a priest. It was his whole life. He loved Jesus, and he loved people. As a priest, he lived his whole life to do God’s will, and he did it perfectly.”

After his ordination, Bishop Galeone returned to Baltimore as a diocesan priest, serving as associate pastor of St. Bernardine (1961-62), and chaplain of St. Paul Latin High School (1963-69). He was chaplain of The Cardinal Gibbons School in Baltimore (1969-70), and served as a missionary twice in Peru with the Society of St. James the Apostle during the 1970s and early 1980s. He was associate pastor of St. William of York in Baltimore (1975-78).

“He loved his mission work,” said Monsignor Farmer, administrator at Immaculate Conception in Towson. “He loved helping the poor.”

Bishop Galeone returned to Baltimore in 1985 to work in parishes, serving as pastor of St. Bernard in Baltimore (1985-89), St. Thomas More in Baltimore (1989-96) and St. Agnes in Catonsville (1996-2001). He was also director of the Society of the Propagation of Faith beginning in 1996.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bishop Victor Galeone,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori in a statement. “He was a great priest and bishop. He was deeply loved and respected as a priest and pastor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He had a special love and regard for his fellow priests that is remembered to this day.”

Bishop Galeone left an impression on many he met, and most would agree his holiness was his most memorable trait.

“Father Vic used to call the Bible God‘s love letter,” said Michelle Burke, a longtime parishioner of St. Agnes. “This underlined his relationship with (God). His love for God was very evident. The way he said Mass, he was present and not just going through the motions. He was deeply spiritual, and he had a deep love for the Lord.”

Current pastor of St. Agnes, Father Isaac Makovo, first met Bishop Galeone in 2019 when they were both helping out at Little Sisters of the Poor.

“He was very humble, and someone who was very passionate about his faith,” Father Makovo said. “There were so many great things said about him here. I am the pastor now, but I could never fill his shoes.”

While at St. Agnes, Bishop Galeone was contemplating retiring and returning to the mission field. But in 2001, he received a call from the apostolic nuncio – the pope’s representative in the United States – telling him that he was named the new bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine. He initially declined because of his age and other factors, but soon agreed and was installed as bishop of the diocese Aug. 21, 2001.

“He was a very holy and compassionate man, and I don’t think anyone was surprised when he was appointed bishop,” said Sue Bianco, a St. Agnes parishioner who was hired by Bishop Galeone to do the parish’s books. “Everyone knew he would do good things.”

In his statement, Archbishop Lori added, “Bishop Galeone went on to serve as bishop of St. Augustine with single-hearted devotion and love, bringing together people of different cultures and languages with a pastor’s love and care. Whatever form his priestly ministry took, he was always deeply prayerful, spending time each day before the Blessed Sacrament and prayerfully reading holy Scripture.”

According to a press release from the Diocese of St. Augustine, during his time as bishop, Bishop Galeone managed the diocese through a recession; dedicated a museum at Mission of Nombre de Dios and consolidated and moved the diocesan archives; and began the diocesan formation program for the permanent diaconate and ordained the first deacons.

In addition, he championed the traditional family, natural family planning and protection of the unborn, which he addressed in his first pastoral letter, “Marriage: A Communion of Life and Love” (July 2003), which was translated into 14 languages. His second pastoral letter was “Stewardship: A Discipleship of Love” (August 2004).

Bishop Galeone retired as bishop in 2011, the year he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination. He spent the early years of his retirement in a Trappist monastery in South Carolina, where he ministered to prisoners.

While he was a busy man, he always made time to go fishing with Monsignor Farmer, whether it was along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay or in Florida after he moved. According to Monsignor Farmer, for decades they took an annual vacation to Ocean City.

As Bishop Galeone’s health declined, he returned to Baltimore, later moving to St. Martin’s Home for the Aged under the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“This good servant of the Lord and the Church will be greatly missed,” concluded Archbishop Lori’s statement. “May he rest in the peace of Christ.”

In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, visitation will be offered June 1, 2-5 p.m. with a 4:30 p.m. prayer service at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged. A visitation and prayer service will also be offered June 2 at 9:30 a.m. Archbishop Lori will offer a funeral Mass June 2 at 11 a.m., also at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged.

In the Diocese of St. Augustine, a vigil service for Bishop Galeone will be held June 5, 6 p.m., at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine in St. Augustine. A funeral Mass will be offered June 6, 10 a.m., also at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. The main celebrant will be Bishop Erik Pohlmeier of St. Augustine. Monsignor Farmer will preach the homily.

Bishop Galeone will be interred in the bishop’s mausoleum at San Lorenzo Catholic Cemetery in St. Augustine.