Roman Catholic bishop of Harrisburg dies suddenly

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


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 yet been announced.


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


Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput expressed shock and sadness in a statement released Thursday morning. He praised 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,” Chaput said.


U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called 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,” Casey said.


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 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.


McFadden was born in Philadelphia May 22, 1947, and grew up there with his parents, brother and two sisters. He attended Catholic schools and later graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in the city.


McFadden 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.


He was named by Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua as the first president of Cardinal O’Hara High School in 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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