Father Gillelan will lead diocese until a new bishop is appointed
Father Robert M. Gillelan Jr., pastor of Prince of Peace Parish, Steelton, has been elected to the position of diocesan administrator by the College of Consultors of the Diocese of Harrisburg. Gillelan had served as vicar general/moderator of the Curia for Bishop Joseph P. McFadden. In that role, he assisted the bishop in the administration of the diocese.
"My previous position as vicar general has helped to prepare me for this new role. I appreciate the confidence the College of Consultors have in me by electing me to this position," said Gillelan, a native of Biglerville who also asked the people of the Diocese to pray for him.
The responsibilities of a diocesan administrator are to carry on the established policies and procedures of the diocese.
According to Gillelan, "As the diocesan administrator, my duty is to help the diocese transition into the era of a new bishop. I am tasked with maintaining the status quo and stability of the diocese. I will do this with the help of the Holy Spirit, the good people of our diocese, and the very capable personnel in the diocesan offices."
An administrator must hold to the ancient principle of avoiding all innovations (nihil innovator). The administrator is bound by all the obligations of a diocesan bishop; in particular he must have residence in the diocese and he must celebrate Mass for the people every Sunday and on holydays of obligation. Gillelan will hold the office until a new bishop takes possession of the diocese.
The appointment of a new bishop is a lengthy and confidential process that begins at the local level and works its way through a series of consultations until it reaches Rome. It can be a time-consuming process, often taking eight months or more to complete. The ultimate decision in appointing bishops rests with the pope, and he is free to select anyone he chooses.
A priest for almost 24 years, Gillelan has been a member of several advisory bodies including the Presbyteral Council, the Priest Personnel Board and the College of Consultors. He has also served as a member of the Diocesan Hispanic Apostolate and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
Gillelan, 55, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Harrisburg on May 27, 1989, by Bishop William Keeler at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg. As administrator for the diocese, he will also continue to serve as pastor of Prince of Peace Parish in Steelton. Previous assignments have included assistant pastor at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish/San Juan Bautista Parroquia, Lancaster, St. Leo the Great Parish in Rohrerstown and St. Joseph Parish in Hanover. He served as pastor of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in York from 1999 to 2012.
He is a native of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Gettysburg and a graduate of Biglerville High School and Millersville University. He has a Master of Divinity degree from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
The College of Consultors is a diocesan body of 10 priests, selected from the council of priests by the bishop. Members are appointed to five-year, rotating, renewable terms. Canon law requires the bishop to consult with his College of Consultors before making certain decisions on governance and administration of the diocese.
McFadden died unexpectedly Thursday morning at a hospital near Philadelphia. Officials say McFadden awoke feeling ill and was taken to a hospital. He was 65 years old.
Church officials say McFadden's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday following several days of services.
His body was received at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg on Sunday night and will lie in state until this evening.
The funeral will be held at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Harrisburg. Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery. All services are open to the public.
McFadden was installed as the 10th bishop of Harrisburg in August 2010.