Msgr. Michael Fitzgerald named Auxiliary Bishop

By Christie Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Michael J. Fitzgerald, 62, currently the judicial vicar of the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal, an auxiliary bishop of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Cardinal Justin Rigali announced the appointment at a 10 a.m. news conference June 22 at the Archdiocesan Office Center in Philadelphia. The appointment was publicized the same day in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Cardinal Rigali will ordain Bishop-elect Fitzgerald to the episcopacy Friday, Aug. 6, the Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

On the same day, Bishop-elect John J. McIntyre, who has served as the Cardinal’s secretary, will also be ordained to the episcopacy by the Cardinal, to serve as an auxiliary bishop. The Cardinal announced the appointment of Bishop-elect McIntyre at a June 8 news conference.

Bishop-elect Fitzgerald said in accepting the appointment, he was conscious of the responsibility entrusted to him and even more aware of God’s providence in calling him to the priesthood and happily sustaining him there throughout the past 30 years. {{more}}

“It is in that providence that I continue to place my trust as I answer a new call of the Church to serve the people of God as a bishop,” he said.

Also on June 22, the Pope named Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Joseph P. McFadden the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg. Bishop McFadden will be installed Aug. 18 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Harrisburg.

It is anticipated that Bishop-elect Fitzgerald will assume the duties Bishop McFadden held as an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, namely assisting the Cardinal in overseeing the Secretariat for Catholic Education and two episcopal territories: Bucks County and sectors of the Philadelphia-North vicariate.

Bishop-elect Fitzgerald is currently in residence at St. Patrick Parish in Philadelphia.

The second of nine children of Dorothy (Bogart) Fitzgerald and the late Edwin Fitzgerald, he attended St. Clement School in Southwest Philadelphia, St. Augustine School in Bridgeport and Bishop Kenrick High School in Norristown before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

Bishop-elect Fitzgerald’s passions for the priesthood and law run deep.

He first received a calling to the priesthood in elementary school and became interested in law in high school.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, he earned a civil law degree from Villanova University in Villanova.

He later worked in the field of law but the call to the priesthood was persistent.

He entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood and in 1980 earned a master of spaninity degree there and was ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

His first two assignments were as parochial vicar of Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Callistus parishes in Philadelphia, respectively.

Bishop-elect Fitzgerald’s ministry in the metropolitan tribunal began in 1982.

He earned a licentiate in canon law in 1989 from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and a doctorate in canon law in 1991 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

From 1991 to 2004, he served as the founding director of the archdiocesan Office for Legal Services, now known as the Office for General Counsel.

In 2003, he was named a monsignor.

From 2004 to 2007 he was vice rector of St. Charles Seminary and since 1996 has served as chaplain of the Serra Club of Philadelphia, an organization that promotes vocations to the priesthood.

Since 2007, Bishop-elect Fitzgerald has served as the judicial vicar of the metropolitan tribunal.

Among other matters, the tribunal addresses issues related to marriage annulments and interpretations of canon law, including parish restructuring and temporal goods of affected parishes.

In remarks at the press conference, Cardinal Rigali described Bishop-elect Fitzgerald as an exemplary priest who possesses a great love for the Church.

“I express my gratitude to Bishop-elect Fitzgerald for his generous response as we begin our new collaboration, together with the other auxiliary bishops, in serving God’s people.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or