Joseph McFadden, Once Cardinal O’Hara’s President, Exchanged Basketball for the Priesthood

Image via Alejandro A. Alvarez Staff Photographer Philadelphia Inquirer

The eulogy for Bishop Joe McFadden could have opened in so many ways, writes Frank Fitzpatrick for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The former president of Cardinal O’Hara High School and a priest at St. Laurence in Highland Park, McFadden also had a brief but memorable tenure as Harrisburg’s bishop.

Instead, the eulogy opened with basketball.

Until his late 20s, everything McFadden did seemed to be pointing him toward a basketball life.

Joe McFadden compiled resume points not too dissimilar from those of future Philly coaches such as Herb Magee, Jim Boyle, or Jim Lynam. Like them, he was introduced to the game at a West Philly Catholic school and honed his skills at nearby playgrounds.

At 24, he was the youngest athletic director in Catholic League history. At 26, he added head basketball coach to his West Catholic duties.

And then, Joe McFadden stepped away from basketball and into St. Charles Seminary.

“There’s a lot of apprehension,” he said at the time. “I’m a basketball addict and I expect there to be withdrawal symptoms. But it’s an idea I always had in the back of my mind. And it just kept coming back to me.”

Read more about Bishop Joseph McFadden’s life here.

Editor’s Note: This post first appeared July 17, 2019.

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