Judicial vicar named new Auxiliary Bishop for Philadelphia Archdiocese

By Matthew Gambino
Director and General Manager

PHILADELPHIA – In a scene reminiscent of recent days, Cardinal Justin Rigali announced at a morning press conference June 22 that Pope Benedict XVI has named Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Joseph P. McFadden as the 10th Bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese and Msgr. Michael Fitzgerald, a Philadelphia priest, will be ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese.

Only two weeks ago, the Cardinal announced also at the Archdiocesan Office Center the appointment of Bishop-elect John McIntyre as auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia. Cardinal Rigali will ordain both bishops Aug. 6 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Bishop McFadden greeted local media and announced his appointment June 22 in Harrisburg. Ordained a priest in 1981 and a bishop in 2004, he will begin to lead the Harrisburg Diocese when he is installed Aug. 18. He succeeds Bishop Kevin Rhoades in Harrisburg, who was named bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend (Ind.) Diocese last November. {{more}}

Cardinal Rigali said the appointment of Bishop McFadden demonstrates that the Holy Father “has confidence that Bishop McFadden will be a compassionate and wise shepherd for the people of Harrisburg. He is a skillful leader with vision and a faith-filled priest who serves joyfully in Jesus’ name. Devoted to Mary our Mother, Bishop McFadden will lead the people of Harrisburg with great care and concern for their spiritual well-being.”

“As Bishop McFadden begins this new ministry,” the Cardinal said, “I offer him my fraternal support and assurance of my prayers. May the Lord bless him and the people of Harrisburg.”

In his remarks in Harrisburg, Bishop McFadden noted the significance of his episcopal motto, “Mary the Model, Jesus the Center,” and the Marian Year begun in the diocese by Bishop Rhoades last October.

“In his pastoral letter initiating the Marian Year, Bishop Rhoades exhorted the faithful of the diocese to follow the example of Mary as the model disciple in following the Lord,” Bishop McFadden said. “I strongly urge the Catholic community here in Harrisburg to embrace Mary the Mother of Jesus as the model for being open to and doing the Lord’s will in one’s daily life.”

Bishop-elect Michael J. Fitzgerald is a civil lawyer and canon lawyer, and currently leads the archdiocesan metropolitan tribunal as judicial vicar. He was ordained a priest in 1980.

He described the tribunal as the judicial branch of the archdiocese’s administration; the office deals primarily with marriage annulments and interpretations of canon law. These include questions of church law concerning parish restructuring and the temporal goods of affected parishes.

He previously led the archdiocese’s legal affairs office, which dealt with matters of civil law, and he served as vice rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

In his remarks, the bishop-elect thanked many people for collaborating in the various ministries in which he served.

“My ministry in the marriage tribunal of the Archdiocese,” he said, “has shown me that our brothers and sisters who have undergone the pain of separation and spanorce have much to teach us about suffering, reconciliation and redemption through cooperation with God’s unfailing mercy mediated to us through the Church.”

He also thanked his family, as he is one of nine children. Some of them, plus other family members and his mother Dorothy, 86, attended the press conference.

“I am blessed to say that my own parents, Dot and Ed Fitzgerald (deceased), did this quietly, unselfishly and with great love over the years for my eight brothers and sisters and me,” Bishop-elect Fitzgerald said. “How grateful I am and will always be for the example of faith, love and family life that they have given to us.”