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Bishop McFadden's faith, life remembered at funeral

Written by Craig Layne, Morning Edition Host/Reporter | May 8, 2013 4:04 PM
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Inside Holy Name of Jesus Church during Bishop Joseph McFadden's funeral.

(Harrisburg) -- Some 1,700 mourners packed a church intended for 1,400 worshipers.

The faithful joined together to song and remebrance of Bishop Joseph McFadden's life and faith.

The 65-year-old's gold-cloth-draped coffin sat at the front of Holy Name of Jesus Church in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, for the roughly two-hour Mass of Christian Burial.

Allentown Bishop John Barres remembered McFadden in his homily as a man of deep faith, dedication and love.

Garnering some laughter from the crowd, Barres said McFadden was a Catholic high school valedictorian who also believed in the power of basketball.

"Make no mistake about it," he said. "Joseph McFadden might have been a kind and gentle priest and bishop, but he always played to win."

Barres lauded McFadden's advocacy for Catholic education and his dedication to outreach programs.

"He would survey the challenges of spreading the Gospel in the 21st Century age of social networking," he said.

After the mass, a Knights of Columbus honor guard flanked McFadden's casket as pallbearers took it to a waiting hearse for its final journey to Holy Cross Cemetery in Harrisburg.

Andrew Bacha led the group, which also served when McFadden was installed as the tenth Bishop of Harrisburg less than three years ago.

He says the news of the bishop's death from a heart attack last week hit hard.

"It was a total shock for the Knights of Columbus, since we work so closely with the priests," Bacha says. "However, with our fraternity, we came together to bond and help each other out."

Nearby, Kathy O'Donnell of Carlisle remembered McFadden's arrival in Harrisburg, too.

"I sang for his installation, and I just sang for his funeral, and many things in between," O'Donnell remembered, with tears in her eyes. "He was personally very helpful to my family."

Many faithful echoed O'Donnell's experience with the late bishop.

Pat Hoban said McFadden was his friend, and years ago, the Bishop served as Hoban's parish priest in Downingtown, Chester County.

"Everywhere he went he was always liked," Hoban said. "He brought the Irish wit with him everywhere he went."

Hoban said McFadden was just getting started in the Harrisburg Diocese.

"He had so much left to do. It's sad, very sad."

Hoban said he'll take comfort in all the positive memories of McFadden.

Part of the bishop's legacy is etched into the Holy Name of Jesus Church itself, where so many squeezed in to pray, sing and cry.

It will always bear McFadden's name - on the plaque in its lobby.

He dedicated the building where his funeral was held -- roughly a year-and-a-half before he passed away.

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Published in Harrisburg, News

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