Pope Francis names Bishop Joseph Williams as coadjutor bishop of Camden, New Jersey

Bishop-elect Joseph A. Williams Bishop-elect Joseph A. Williams. | Credit: Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Pope Francis on Tuesday named Bishop Joseph Williams as coadjutor bishop of Camden, New Jersey.

Williams, 50, has served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis since 2022.

As coadjutor, Williams will assist 79-year-old Bishop Dennis Sullivan in the administration of the Camden Diocese and will automatically succeed him as bishop upon Sullivan’s retirement next year. 

“I am overjoyed in coming to a diocese whose bishop is held in such high esteem by both the faithful and the Holy Father,” Williams said after the announcement was made public.

“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.”

According to the Diocese of Camden, Sullivan submitted his letter of resignation to the pope on his 75th birthday in 2020. Pope Francis recently notified the bishop that his resignation will be accepted on his 80th birthday on March 17, 2025.

“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 Sullivan, who has led the Camden Diocese for more than a decade.

“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,” he said.

Williams was born in Minneapolis on May 2, 1974, as the third of nine children. He studied at the University of Minnesota-Morris and at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, where he discerned a vocation to the priesthood.

He began his priestly training at the Saint Paul Seminary in Minnesota in 1998, earning a master’s of divinity degree.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis at the age of 28 on May 28, 2002, by Archbishop Harry J. Flynn. His brother, Father Peter Williams, was also ordained a priest in the archdiocese in 2004. 

Williams took on an active role in ministry to Latino and Spanish-speaking Catholics while serving at the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Divine Mercy Parish in Faribault. He then went on to serve the parishes of St. Mathias in Hampton and St. Mary in New Trier.

He was appointed pastor of St. Stephen in 2008, taking on responsibility for Holy Rosary Parish in 2020. He was named episcopal vicar for Hispanic ministry in 2018. 

Williams was ordained a bishop on Jan. 25, 2022, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. He chose “Misericordiam Volo” as his episcopal motto, meaning “I desire mercy” (Mt 9:13).

The Diocese of Camden serves more than 486,000 Catholics across 62 parishes in South Jersey. 

Sullivan will retain full responsibility for the diocese until March 17, 2025, when Williams will automatically succeed him.

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