The Washington Post

Second Catholic priest appointed to serve as House chaplain

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday announced that the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy will be the 60th chaplain of the House, the second Catholic priest to serve in that post.

Conroy succeeds the Rev. Daniel P. Coughlin, who was tapped by then-Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to become the first Catholic to hold the job. Coughlin resigned last month after 11 years of service.

A Jesuit who previously served as chaplain of Georgetown University for a decade, Conroy currently teaches theology at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore. He is a native of Washington State and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1983, according to Boehner’s office.

As The Post’s Ben Pershing detailed earlier this week, the search for a House chaplain -- whose responsibilities include leading the House in prayer at the start of each session -- has often been accompanied by controversy.

In 2000, Hastert had originally appointed a Presbyterian minister to serve in the post, even though a bipartisan panel of members had supported a Catholic for the job. Hastert then withdrew the choice and tapped Coughlin following charges from Democrats that the pick had reflected an anti-Catholic bias, an accusation that Hastert strongly denied.

Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who are both Catholic, worked together in the search for a new chaplain. They welcomed Conroy’s arrival Friday.

“We are honored that Father Conroy has agreed to serve as House chaplain,” Boehner said in a statement. “His dedication to God’s work, commitment to serving others, and experience working with people of faith from all traditions will make him an asset to the House community. We look forward to having his counsel and guidance in the people’s House.”

The full House will vote on Conroy’s nomination later this month.


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