Bishop-elect Joseph L. Coffey

The Holy See announced Jan. 22, that Pope Francis has named Father Joseph L. Coffey ’78, a new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, (AMS).

Bishop-elect Coffey’s sister is Marita Coffey Finley ’86. Her husband, Dan, is a member of the Archbishop John Carroll High School Board of Directors. A long line of Coffey family members who have graduated from Carroll or are current students, including Marita and Dan’s children: Gabrielle Finley ’14; Katherine Finley ’15; Daniel Finley ’17; Joseph Finley ’19 and Mary Finley ’22.

Five other siblings of Bishop-elect Coffey also graduated from Carroll:  William F. X., Jr. ’72; Thomas ’76; John ’80; Kara Lee ’82; James ’85, and niece Kathleen Iepson ’07 and nephew Martin Iepson ’07.

Bishop Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop for the Military Services, will ordain Father Coffey a bishop in a solemn Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Father Coffey said, “I am humbled and honored to have been chosen by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to assist Archbishop Broglio in his duties as the chief shepherd for the AMS. I am extremely grateful to my three shepherds from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Justin Cardinal Rigali, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who have given me the necessary permission to serve on active duty in the US Navy Chaplain Corps for these last 17 years.”

Bishop-elect Joseph L. Coffey, son of the late Dr. William F. X Coffey, M.D., and Roseanita Schubert Coffey, was born in Rochester, Minn. He is the fifth of nine children and the proud uncle of 46 nieces and nephews and 12 great nieces and nephews. He was raised in Philadelphia and is a life-long fan of all the Philly sports teams.

“We are immensely proud of Bishop-select Coffey,” said Carroll President Francis E. Fox ’77. “His humility, priestly dedication and service to our nation is an inspiration to us all.”

“Today marks a moment of great joy for our local Church,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, archbishop of Philadelphia.  “This appointment by the Holy Father continues a long and generous tradition of episcopal service to the Universal Church by priests from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It also demonstrates Pope Francis’ confidence in Bishop-elect Coffey, who has served with faithful devotion for many years.

“As Bishop-elect Coffey prepares to begin his episcopal ministry, I offer him heartfelt congratulations on behalf of the priests, deacons, religious, and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I’m confident that he will carry out his duties with great energy, compassion, zeal, and fidelity and I pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen him as a successor of the Apostles.”

Father Coffey graduated from La Salle University in 1982 with a double major in English/French which included a year of study at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. After college, Father Coffey worked as a grade school teacher, a ski instructor in Switzerland, and in the automobile industry in Germany and Belgium for five years.

Heeding a call to the priesthood, he attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and graduated with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained in 1996 by Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua. He earned a Master of Arts in Moral Theology, also from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 2000.

While still in seminary, Father Coffey was given permission by Cardinal Bevilacqua to enter the U.S. Navy Chaplain Candidate Program in May of 1992 with the rank of Ensign. He stayed in the Navy Reserve for the next nine years.

Following ordination in 1996, Father Coffey was assigned as an Associate Pastor to St. Katherine of Siena parish in Philadelphia. After five years in parish ministry, he was given permission by Cardinal Bevilacqua for full-time active duty as a Navy Chaplain in September of 2001.

Chaplain Coffey’s duty assignments have included: Combat Assault Battalion, Okinawa, Japan; Division Officer and Command Chaplain on board  USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73), homeported  in Norfolk, VA, with a 6 month deployment to the Arabian Gulf; Command Chaplain at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Cape May, NJ; Marine Air Group 39, Camp Pendleton, CA, an assignment that included a seven-month month deployment to Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Provence, Afghanistan; U.S. Navy Recruiting Command, St. Louis, MO; Command Chaplain on USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), home ported in Yokosuka, Japan, with a six-month deployment to the South Pacific Ocean; and his current assignment is Assistant Chief of Staff for Religious Ministry, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA.

Father Coffey’s military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with 2 gold stars, the Navy Achievement Medal with 2 gold stars, the Navy Sea Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the NATO Service Medal, 3 Battle E Ribbons.

“I have been so blessed to have had two loving parents who gave me the gift of life and sharing the Catholic faith with me and a very large extended family, who have made my life so full, meaningful and joyful,” Bishop-elect Coffey said. “I have tried to share that with the good people of St. Katherine’s parish as an Assistant pastor and the Sailors, Marines, and ‘Coasties’ that I have served with as a priest chaplain. I am grateful to the many priest friends who have shared this beautiful calling to the priesthood with me, who have led by holy example, and who have shared this adventure of life and the priesthood with me. I pray that I will serve the Lord and his people in the Military well in this new responsibility. I ask for your prayers for me and be assured of mine every day.”

The story was written by the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA, with additional writing by the Archbishop John Carroll High School Office of Communications.