Pope Francis has named Father William J. Muhm and Father Joseph L. Coffey as auxiliary bishops of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.
Bishop-designate Muhm, 61, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and since December has served as administrator of Most Precious Blood parish in Walden. He has served as a U.S. Navy chaplain, retiring with the rank of captain last year.
Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1995, he served as parochial vicar of St. Ann, Ossining, 1995-1996 and Holy Family, Staten Island, 1996-1998.
Bishop-designate Coffey, 58, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who has served since 2001 as a U.S. Navy chaplain, holding the rank of captain.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who heads the military archdiocese, will ordain the new bishops on Monday, March 25, in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The appointments were announced Jan. 22 in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.
The bishops-designate will succeed Auxiliary Bishops Richard B. Higgins, who turns 75 Feb. 22 and will be retiring, and Robert J. Coyle, who was transferred to the Diocese of Rockville Centre last February.
Bishop-designate Muhm, in a statement, said he was “humbled and honored” by his appointment.
He retired from the Navy May 1, 2018, and was on sabbatical until Dec. 1, when he became administrator of Most Precious Blood parish.
“I’m very sad to be leaving Most Precious Blood parish so soon after arriving there,” Bishop-designate Muhm said, “but I’m very grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ for His great love for me and for calling me through the Holy Father and Archbishop Broglio to serve the great Americans of the AMS. I look forward to it very much and ask for everyone’s prayers.”
Cardinal Dolan congratulated Bishop-designate Muhm, sending him good wishes for his new responsibilities.
“While we had just gotten used to having him back with us as a pastor, after decades of faithful priestly ministry as a Navy chaplain, it’s a big part of the legacy of this archdiocese to share its treasures of priests, sisters, lay faithful and gifts with the wider Church,” Cardinal Dolan said.
“You’re always at home here! Thanks for your love of God and country, for Jesus and His Church!”
Archbishop Broglio welcomed his two colleagues in ministry to their new roles in serving the 1.8 million women and men in the U.S. military around the world.
“I am delighted that both candidates have accepted to serve in a new way,” he said in a news release from the archdiocese. “They bring vast experience and deep pastoral solicitude to their new role.”
Bishop-designate Muhm was born to the late James and Anne Muhm in Billings, Mont., and raised in Denver.
Before entering the seminary in 1989 to study for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of New York, Bishop-designate Muhm was commissioned a Navy ensign in 1981. He left active duty and worked as an accountant from 1986 to 1989.
In 1998, Bishop-designate Muhm returned to active duty as a Navy chaplain. His assignments included Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan; aboard the USS Wasp and USS Bonhomme Richard; a post-9/11 deployment in the Arabian Sea; the Training Support Center Great Lakes in Illinois; Anbar province, Iraq; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; and Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Bishop-designate Muhm’s military awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, Navy Commendation Medal with gold star, Navy Achievement Medal with gold star and fleet marine force officer qualification.
He earned a master’s degree in theology, a master of divinity and a bachelor of sacred theology from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, and a bachelor’s in business administration from Colorado State University.
Bishop-designate Coffey in a statement credited those who have led the Philadelphia Archdiocese over the years—Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, Cardinal Justin F. Rigali and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Philadelphia’s current archbishop—for allowing him to serve in the military as a chaplain.
Born in Rochester, Minn., Bishop-designate Coffey is the fifth of nine children of the late Dr. William F.X. Coffey and Roseanita Schubert Coffey. He was raised in Philadelphia and ordained to the priesthood in 1996.
While studying for the priesthood, he entered the U.S. Navy Chaplain Candidate Program in 1992. He served in the Navy Reserve for nine years. Since 2001, he has been chaplain in the Navy and a recruiter for the chaplain corps.
His naval assignments include stints in Okinawa, Japan; aboard the USS George Washington and USS Ronald Reagan; Camp Pendelton, Calif.; Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan; and U.S. Navy Recruiting Command in St. Louis. His current assignment is assistant chief of staff for religious ministry in the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.
Bishop-designate Coffey has received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars, the Navy Achievement Medal with two gold stars, Navy Sea Service Medal, National Defense Medal, War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO Service Medal.
The Military Chaplains Association awarded Bishop-designate Coffey its Distinguished Service Award as chaplain of the year in 2004.
Catholic New York contributed to this report.