Question-and-answer with Oklahoma City Archbishop-designate Paul S. Coakley

The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop-designate of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, shares his viewpoint about several issues impacting the archdiocese he will soon lead.
BY CARLA HINTON chinton@opubco.com Published: February 6, 2011

Archbishop-designate Paul S. Coakley answered several questions about ministry and his future role as leader of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City:

Q: What are some of the things you've learned about Oklahoma City?

A: I've been reading a lot, history books and things of that sort. I've learned a lot about the opening of Indian Territory, about the background of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City itself. I've learned that it's an ethnically, racially, culturally diverse community. I have a lot more to learn. I'm trying to come in with a very positive appreciation for the richness of the community. I know the city of Oklahoma has been through a lot with the bombing back in 1995, that there's been a great deal of rebounding, growth and development since then.

Q: Do you know what you will be doing those first few weeks as archbishop?

A: Not specifically. I've made arrangements to meet with all of my various department heads and the archdiocesan staff in the first week. I would like to get around as quickly as I can to the parishes and the Catholic institutions around the archdiocese. One of the things that is to my advantage is the time of year I'm coming is the time of year we celebrate the sacrament of confirmation, which will take me around the archdiocese pretty quickly. I'll use those visits to get acquainted with the parishes.

Q: The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is planning to close a church in Enid in June due to a shortage of priests. How will you deal with the shortage of priests?

A: We have faced shortages of priests here in this (Salina) diocese also so that won't be an altogether new experience. But certainly I think as an archdiocese, as a church, we need to continue to focus a lot of our attention on cultivation and promotion of the vocation of the priesthood. That has been my approach here. Also, we have in this diocese, a number of priests from other countries who come to serve short-term as missionaries. And I know Archbishop Beltran has relied on priests from other countries, so I'm sure in the short term we will do that. I will continue to work hard to really foster a culture that is favorable to vocations in our families, parishes and schools.

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AT A GLANCE

Paul S. Coakley

Hometown: Norfolk, Va.

Age: 55.

Professional: Archbishop-designate, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, present; Bishop of Salina (Kan.) Diocese, 2004 to December 2010; Ordained priest, Diocese of Wichita, Kan., 1983.

Education: University of Kansas, bachelor's degree in English and classical antiquities, 1977; St. Pius X Seminary, Erlanger, Ky., pre-theology, 1979; Mount St. Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., master of arts, master of divinity, theology, 1983; Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Christian spirituality, 1987.

Personal: Parents John Coakley Jr. and Mary Coakley (deceased), Overland Park, Kan.; brother, John Coakley III., Merriam, Kan.; sister, Mary Christina Berry, Tahlequah.

Hobbies: Bicycling, running, reading.

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