The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 15, 2010

New bishop thought he'd be college coach

New bishop thought he'd be college coach

LEWISBURG — If it weren't for his spiritual calling, you might have seen Joseph McFadden courtside, shouting instructions to the guys on the court.

"I might well have wound up a college basketball coach, because coaching was my passion growing up," he said Friday. "There was every indication that after going to St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, I would become an NCAA coach. And I would have been happy in that profession."

Turns out things didn't turn out that way.

The Rev. Joseph McFadden, 63, on Wednesday will be installed as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, succeeding Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who was transferred to Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., last November.

One June 22, Pope Pope Benedict XVI selected McFadden to lead the 15-county Harrisburg diocese, which has 89 parishes, eight missions and 233,000 parishioners.

"I am deeply humbled by the confidence that Pope Benedict has placed in me in appointing me as the shepherd of this particular Church," McFadden said. "I thank almighty God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me through the course of my life. This has been a life long journey, that has led me to Harrisburg."

Inspired in Peru

It's a journey that began on the streets of Philadelphia, as a young man with hoop dreams.

But McFadden thought he might also become a priest. And there is a moment, before joining the priesthood, that he can point to when he realized this might be his vocation.

"When I was 25, I visited my sister, who was a nun, doing service in Peru," McFadden said. "I remember going into the mountains on Christmas eve, to a small, poor town with a dirt-floor church. And the children, the poorest of children who had nothing, gathered together to sing the most beautiful hymns that night.

"And I thought there was inspiration here. It is at that moment when I began to question who I am and what I might do with my life."

After graduating from St. Joseph's, he began teaching at West Catholic High in Philadelphia, where he coached basketball.

He was ordained a priest in 1981, after attending St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Montgomery County. Eventually, he served for 29 years in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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