Diocesan Administrator Elected for Churches in Harrisburg

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COLUMBIA COUNTY -- Clergy and parishioners at catholic churches across the Diocese said they are saddened by the loss of their Bishop. Monday, a new Diocesan Administrator had been elected to take care of some business, while other work will be put on hold.

Catholics in the Diocese of Harrisburg were paying respects to the late Bishop Joseph McFadden. He passed away last week.

“He always had a smile on his face, and most men don’t walk around with a smile on their face, but he was always pleasant,” said Mary Lloyd of Freeland.

"I think we just continue to go on, the way we did when he was still living," said Father Dennis Dalessandro.

Father Dalessandro is pastor at St. Joseph in Berwick. His parish and others in the Diocese of Harrisburg will temporarily be led by a Diocesan Administrator, Father Robert Gillelan. He will take over many of the Bishop's duties for now, but some things will still be put on hold.

"Most of the things, there are certain things he can`t do, he can`t effectively transfer pastors, he can`t ordain to the priesthood," said Father Dalessandro.

Father Dalessandro said the new administrator can celebrate confirmations, a sacrament many young Catholics here in Columbia County are preparing for.

"We were expecting the Bishop in Berwick this Friday, this week, to confirm about 50 kids from St. Mary`s and St. Joesph`s and we`re still kind of waiting as to what they`re going to do," said Father Dalessandro.

At St. Columba in Bloomsburg, the parish just recently celebrated confirmation with Bishop McFadden.

"Their pictures had been taken with their kids, they had dinner with him, and they were just surprised and shocked and saddened of course," said St. Columba parish secretary Diane Melchiorre.

The parish's secretary said the death of the bishop has saddened their parishioners, but work in their parish won't stop.

"As far as our general office work it doesn't really effect any of that, we`re dealing with parishioners with baptisms, weddings, you know just the normal day-to-day things," said Melchiorre.

Church officials said it could be a year or longer before Pope Francis names a new Bishop for the Diocese of Harrisburg.

Bishop McFadden will be laid to rest Wednesday. The schedule of funeral services is listed here.