James Amato has been named secretary for Catholic Human Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, it was announced Monday, Dec. 21. The appointment becomes effective Jan. 1, 2016.

The position is responsible for overseeing all the operations of the archdiocese’s social outreach and health care, including the offices, staff and facilities of Catholic Health Care Services, Catholic Social Services, Nutritional Development Services and the Office of Community Development. It had been held by Joseph J. Sweeney Jr., who retired at the end of 2015 after 31 years of service in the archdiocese.

Most recently Amato has led Catholic Social Services since 2000 as deputy secretary, and has served in various roles in CSS for 32 years.


A Northeast Philadelphia native, Amato holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in social work from Temple University. He began his career as a supervisor in various parish social ministry and service center roles before becoming assistant director of professional services where he managed the Homeless Services and Family Service Center programs.

He went on to become the director of children services managing foster care, group home and in-home services involving contracts with the city and state.

As deputy secretary Amato managed operations for all programs and services, adapted programs to changes in governmental funding and policy priorities, and assured fidelity to Catholic teaching in all programs.

An active state-licensed Professional Social Worker, Amato is also an advisory member of Visitation B.V.M. School in Philadelphia, a member of Catholic Charities USA and the Pennsylvania Council for Children, Youth and Family Services. He also currently serves on the local Federal Emergency Management Assistance Board and various Catholic Social Services boards including Finance, Youth Services, Strategic Planning and Nominations.

He has previously held a board membership for the World Meeting of Families’ Hunger and Homelessness Committee, Covenant House, St. Vincent’s Home in Tacony, Nutritional Development Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre, who oversees Catholic Human Services in the archdiocese, said he looks forward to continuing to work with Amato in his new role, saying his “knowledge of the mission of Catholic Human Services and his dedication to that mission will be a blessing.”

“I am also very grateful for the manner in which Joe Sweeney brought his faith to bear upon his work, his dedication to the mission of the church to care for the poor and those most in need and for his leadership of the secretariat in what were often trying times.”