McFadden dies unexpectedly Thursday

HARRISBURG – A press release provided Thursday by the Diocese of Harrisburg announced that Bishop Joseph P. McFadden died unexpectedly while attending a meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

According to the release, he awoke feeling ill and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at approximately 7:40 a.m. A cause of death was not available at the time the news broke.

The governance of the Diocese of Harrisburg passed to the College of Consultors upon his death, the release states. They will have eight days to elect an administrator who will be in charge of day-to-day operation of the diocese until a new bishop is appointed by the Holy Father.

McFadden was the 10th Bishop of Harrisburg. He was appointed on June 22, 2010, by former Pope Benedict XVI. He was installed as Bishop of Harrisburg on Aug. 18, 2010, in St. Patrick Cathedral, Harrisburg. The diocese covers 15 counties, including Mifflin, Juniata, Perry and Snyder.

According to the release, McFadden was born in Philadelphia on May 22, 1947, the son of Thomas and Ellen McFadden. He lived with his parents, brother, John, and sisters, Jane and Ellen, in west Philadelphia, and was baptized at Saint Rose of Lima Parish.

He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School from 1953 to 1961. He attended Saint Thomas More High School for Boys from 1961 to 1965. While in high school, he was a member of student council, the newspaper, junior varsity and varsity basketball teams and National Honor Society. He was also the valedictorian of his graduating class.

After high school, he enrolled at Saint Joseph University, majoring in political science. He graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in politics. While at St. Joseph, he played on the freshmen basketball team and then embarked on a career of coaching basketball during his remaining years in college, first as the freshman coach at St. Thomas More High School and then as the junior varsity coach at West Catholic High School for Boys.

Upon graduation from Saint Joseph University, McFadden was hired to teach at West Catholic Boys High School. While teaching, he coached the junior varsity baseball team, JV and varsity basketball teams and became head coach in 1973. He was also moderator of student council. In 1972, he was appointed director of athletics for West Catholic and served on the board of directors for the Philadelphia Catholic League.

In 1976, McFadden entered Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary to study for the priesthood and was ordained a deacon in 1980 and assigned to Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Secane. On May 16, 1981, he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul by His Eminence John Cardinal Krol. McFadden received a Master of Divinity degree after completing his studies at Saint Charles Seminary, graduating summa cum laude.

In June 1981, he was assigned the parochial vicar at St. Laurence Parish, Highland Park. In 1982, he was appointed administrative secretary to Cardinal Krol and held the position until 1993. On May 29, 1991, he was named an honorary prelate to Pope John Paul II, with the title of monsignor.

In 1993, McFadden was named by Cardinal Bevilacqua to be the first president of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield. During his tenure as president, the school’s enrollment increased from 1,540 students to 2,000 students, and he helped initiate the “Laptops for Learning” program in the school.

In 2001, McFadden was appointed pastor of St Joseph Parish, Downingtown, where he ministered until his appointment as auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia in June 2004. McFadden was ordained to the episcopacy by Cardinal Justin Rigali in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on July 28, 2004.