The Reverend Monsignor Joseph Francis Rebman, retired pastor of St. Joseph on the Brandywine parish in Greenville, Delaware, and former diocesan administrator, vicar general, judicial vicar, and chancellor for the Diocese of Wilmington, passed away on October 3, 2021. He was 85 years old.
Born on December 6, 1935 and raised in Wilmington, he attended St. Peter’s Cathedral School and Salesianum School. He studied at Saint Charles College and Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, the North American College and Gregorian University in Rome, and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Ordained to the priesthood on December 18, 1960 in Rome, Msgr. Rebman served as associate pastor at Immaculate Conception in Elkton, Maryland; St. Mary of the Assumption in Hockessin; Church of the Holy Child in Wilmington; and St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Greenville, Delaware. He served as administrator of St. Thomas the Apostle in Wilmington for a time in 1979 and of St. Peter Cathedral for a time in 1998. He was appointed pastor of St. Joseph on the Brandywine in 1999, a post that he held until his retirement in May 2021.
In 1967, Msgr. Rebman was assigned to full-time ministry in the Diocesan Tribunal where he held the positions of advocate, defender of the bond, judge, and judicial vicar.
In 1969, he was appointed vice chancellor and, in 1974, became chancellor; the next year he was named Honorary Prelate, with the title of Reverend Monsignor, by Pope Paul VI.
From February of 1995 to January of 1996, when Diocese of Wilmington was without a bishop, Msgr. Rebman was elected by his peers to serve as Diocesan Administrator. In 1996 he was appointed Vicar General for Pastoral Concerns.
During his years of ministry, Msgr. Rebman served on many diocesan boards, committees, councils, and commissions. He served as chaplain to the Lucian Catholic Club, the Knights of Columbus, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Active in cemetery ministry throughout his priesthood, he served as Director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Wilmington for many years and served as president of the National Catholic Cemetery Conference from 1978 until 1980.
Known for his always positive attitude, Msgr. Rebman would often greet people with, “Peace, love and joy!” and conclude a conversation with, “God loves you.”
Msgr. Rebman was predeceased by his parents, the late Joseph R. and Isabelle (Hayburn) Rebman, his sister, Isabelle Greigg (Marty); and his stepmother, Pauline Hall Rebman.
He is survived by his sister, Mary Forester (Albert); his nieces and nephews, Kathleen Kendall (Brian), Vincent Forester (Zarina), Joseph Forester (Naomi), MaryBeth Lund (Tim), Chris Greigg (Terry Robinson) and Michael Greigg (Robin); and his stepbrother, Tom Hall (Carol); and several members of his extended family.
Parishioners and friends are invited to pay their respects at a viewing on Monday, October 11, 2021 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Saint Joseph on the Brandywine, 10 Old Church Road, Wilmington, DE 19807 or on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 from 11:30 am - 1 pm at Saint Elizabeth Church, 809 S. Broom Street, Wilmington, DE 19805, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1:00pm. Interment will follow in All Saints Cemetery, 6001 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington, DE 19808.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Diocese of Wilmington Priest Education Fund, PO Box 2030 Wilmington, DE 19899-2030.
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