By Lou Baldwin

Special to The CS&T

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia Joseph P. McFadden the 10th Bishop of Harrisburg, it was announced June 22 in Washington D.C. by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. He will be installed in his diocese on Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Bishop McFadden, 63, succeeds Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who was named Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., last November.

“I am deeply humbled by the confidence that Pope Benedict has placed in me in appointing me as the shepherd of this particular Church,” Bishop McFadden said at a Harrisburg morning news conference. “I thank Almighty God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me through the course of my life.” {{more}}

He also expressed gratitude to Archbishop Sambi for his solicitude and support and for recommending him for his new post.

“I am grateful to his Eminence, Justin Cardinal Rigali, who has been a wonderful mentor and father to me in the episcopacy,” Bishop McFadden said. “I have been privileged to be his Auxiliary Bishop in Philadelphia and now look forward to working together with him as my Metropolitan Archbishop.”

“When I congratulated Bishop McFadden I also thanked him for his tireless and selfless service as a priest and as an Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia,” Cardinal Rigali said at the news conference at which the appointment of Msgr. Michael J. Fitzgerald as Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia was also announced. “I will greatly miss his invaluable assistance to me and this local Church, especially his particular concern for Catholic education and his important leadership on our important undertaking Heritage of Faith-Vision of Hope, the capital campaign designed to meet the extraordinary challenges we face at this time.”

Bishop McFadden was born in Philadelphia May 22, 1947, the son of Thomas and Ellen (Griffin) McFadden. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes School and St. Thomas More High School for Boys where he played varsity basketball and was a member of the National Honor Society and his class valedictorian at his 1965 graduation.

He continued on to St. Joseph’s University where he majored in political science.

As a college student he played on the freshman basketball team and was freshman basketball coach for St. Thomas More High School and junior varsity coach for West Catholic High School for Boys.

After graduating from St. Joseph’s in 1969 he was hired as a teacher at West Catholic, and in 1972 he was appointed the school’s athletic director and also served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Catholic League.

In 1976 Bishop McFadden entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to study for the priesthood. In 1980 he was ordained a deacon and served at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.

He received his Master of spaninity Degree Summa Cum Laude from St. Charles Seminary in 1981 and was ordained a priest by Cardinal John Krol at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on May 16, 1981.

His first appointment was as parochial vicar at St. Laurence Parish, Upper Darby. In 1982 he was appointed administrative secretary to Cardinal Krol, a position he held even after the Cardinal’s retirement. He was named Honorary Prelate to his Holiness in 1991. Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua appointed him as the first principal of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield in 1993 and during his eight-year tenure the school grew from 1,540 to 2,000 students.

In 2001 he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Downingtown.

On May 31, 2004 he received a call from Cardinal Justin Rigali informing him Pope John Paul II wished to appoint him Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. The date was appropriate because of his great devotion to the Blessed Virgin – it was the feast of the Visitation.

Bishop McFadden was ordained to the episcopacy by Cardinal Rigali at the Cathedral along with Bishop Joseph R. Cistone on Sept. July 28, 2004. He took as his motto “Mary the Model – Jesus the Center.”

As Auxiliary Bishop these past eight years he has served on many boards and committees but has had a special focus on education and most recently, as Cardinal Rigali noted, oversaw the Heritage of Faith-Vision of Hope capital campaign. The campaign, Bishop McFadden said at the Harrisburg news conference, has surpassed $175 million in pledges and is expected to reach its stated goal of $200 million.

In addition he’s had numerous confirmation appointments, including, by coincidence, these past months in the Harrisburg diocese.

Because the diocese had not had a bishop since Bishop Rhoades’ appointment to Fort Wayne-South Bend, he was one of several bishops asked to visit for confirmations, and did so in various areas. Now, “I look forward to traveling to every corner of the diocese,” he said.

Just as it was in 2004, news of his appointment reached him on the same feast of the Blessed Virgin, May 31, the feast of the Visitation.

“I am especially happy to have been named the new Bishop of Harrisburg during the Marian Year Bishop Rhoades convoked last October and which will continue until this coming October,” he said.

Finally in his news conference Bishop McFadden told his new diocese “this is not my ship. We are in this together; we are the Church.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.