Obituary: Bishop Joseph McFadden / Roman Catholic bishop of Harrisburg

May 22, 1947 - May 2, 2013

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Bishop Joseph McFadden, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg for the past three years, died Thursday after feeling ill, church officials said. He was 65.

Bishop McFadden had been in his native Philadelphia attending a meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania. Officials said he awoke feeling ill and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A cause of death has not been announced.

Bishop McFadden was appointed the 10th bishop of Harrisburg in June 2010 and installed two months later. The diocese serves about 250,000 Roman Catholics in 15 counties in Central Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput expressed shock and sadness in a statement released Thursday morning. He praised Bishop McFadden for his dedication to the church and for using "new forms of media to proclaim the message of the Gospel."

"His service in our state capital was instrumental in fostering the teachings of the church in the public square," Archbishop Chaput said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., called Bishop McFadden "a forceful advocate, an effective leader and a much beloved shepherd for the people of Harrisburg, Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania."

"I join the Diocese of Harrisburg in mourning the passing of a good man," Mr. Casey said.

Bishop McFadden's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday following several days of services, church officials said. His body will be received at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg on Sunday evening and will lie in state until Tuesday evening.

The funeral will be held at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Harrisburg. Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery. All services are open to the public.

Bishop McFadden was born in Philadelphia on May 22, 1947, and grew up there with his parents, brother and two sisters.

He graduated in 1965 from St. Thomas More High School for Boys and went on to St. Joseph's University, where he played on the freshman basketball team. He coached basketball during his remaining years in college, first at St. Thomas More and later at West Catholic High School for Boys.

After graduating in 1969 with a political science degree from St. Joseph's, Bishop McFadden taught at West Catholic and coached basketball. In 1972, he was appointed athletics director for West Catholic and served on the board of directors for the Philadelphia Catholic League.

He entered the seminary in 1976 and was ordained a priest in 1981. The following year, he was appointed administrative secretary to Philadelphia Cardinal John Krol, a position he held until 1993. During that time, he was named an honorary prelate to Pope John Paul II, with the title of monsignor.

Bishop McFadden was named by Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua as the first president of Cardinal O'Hara High School in the southwest Philadelphia suburb of Springfield in 1993. Eight years later, he became pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown, where he served until being named auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia in 2004.

Diocesan officials in Harrisburg have eight days to elect an administrator who will oversee daily operations until a new bishop is appointed by Pope Francis.

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