I had nearly gotten to my desk this morning when I took a quick look at my work email on my Smartphone.
The time was 9:51 a.m. and I had a fresh email from Joe Aponick, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.
The subject line read: Death of Bishop McFadden.I froze in my tracks and quickly opened the email. In that split second, I thought this could not be referring to our Bishop McFadden. I just interviewed him in February at York College and was looking forward to doing so again at St. Joseph’s Theology on Tap event May 15.
The email contents confirmed the shocking news. McFadden died very suddenly earlier in the day after he fell ill while at a conference in Philadelphia.
We quickly got a story on www.ydr.com and the condolences poured in. Bishop for just three years, McFadden was well liked.
I can’t say I knew him that well. We had a phone interview last year about the Catholic Year of Faith campaign and I met him in person in February, when we talked about new Pope Francis.
I came away from that with one memory of McFadden. We were able to talk as he met every parishioner on their way out the door. I remember the bishop for his strikingly easygoing manner with everyone from 8 to 80.
His go-to move was a firm handshake accompanied by a quick, hearty “how ya doin?” He must have said it 50 times that night, as Brougher Chapel on campus was packed full.
I remember watching him and thinking, “he reminds me of someone I’d want to grab a beer with.” That’s a common refrain to distinguish someone as having everyman qualities. But it surprised me to be thinking it about a Catholic bishop.
But to me, that was Joseph McFadden. A guy who related easily.
Rest in peace.