Obituary: Father James E. Richardson, 81, longtime drug and alcohol abuse counselor

By Mike Lang
February 25, 2014

Funeral services for Father James E. Richardson are set for Monday and Tuesday at Church of the Holy Child. Father Richardson, a retired priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, who died Feb. 14. He was 81.

A wake will be held Monday at 4:30 p.m., followed by visitation from 5-8 p.m. The funeral Mass will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. The church is located at 2500 Naamans Road, Wilmington. Father Richardson had helped out at the parish for several years.

Ordained in 1965, Father Richardson served as an associate pastor at St. Matthew’s and Immaculate Heart of Mary, both in Wilmington, and at St. Mary of the Assumption, Hockessin. From 1977-82, he was rector of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

In 1982, he became a counselor with Catholic Social Services, and the next year he was appointed director of outpatient care at the Center for Pastoral Care, a post he held for nine years, although he continued as an alcohol and drug counselor. In 1991 he became involved in AIDS ministry, working with a local support group. He also was an HIV and substance abuse trainer for the state of Delaware and, for many years, a chaplain at St. Edmond’s Academy in Wilmington.

Father Richardson talked openly about his alcohol addiction over the years. He took a leave of absence in 1970 to receive treatment in Michigan and had been in recovery ever since.

“Whether you have a drinking problem or some other problem, coming to grips with it is a slow process,” he told The Dialog in 1974. “I’ve always been told that God will not give you a cross which you cannot bear — and I have found that to be true.”

Father Richardson was born in New York City and attended Cardinal Hayes High School. He studied for the priesthood at St. Mary’s College in Kentucky and Catholic University of America.

Burial will take place privately at All Saints Cemetery. Donations in his name can be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at Church of the Holy Child.


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