John P. Cahill has been named chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York, becoming the first layperson to hold the position.
Cardinal Dolan announced the appointment Oct. 1 during an assembly of archdiocesan employees in St. John the Evangelist Church at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan.
The cardinal said Cahill’s common sense and humility, and his “competent and helpful” background, “encourages my trust.”
Before his appointment as chancellor, Cahill had served since April as chief of staff and special counsel to the Archbishop of New York.
“I’m honored to be asked to be the first lay chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York,” Cahill said. “I know my Irish parents would be extraordinarily proud, as I am.”
In a short phone interview with CNY this week, Cahill said he anticipates that many of the responsibilities he held in his previous position would be rolled into his new position, which has a primary focus on “the temporal issues” facing the archdiocese.
Msgr. Joseph LaMorte had served as vicar general and chancellor for the past 11 months. Cahill’s appointment as chancellor mean the positions will return to a more traditional two-person operation.
Along with his responsibilities as vicar general, Msgr. LaMorte serves as moderator of the curia in the archdiocese. The cardinal said many archdiocesan employees have told him that Msgr. LaMorte “almost treats 1011 (archdiocesan headquarters at 1011 First Ave.) like his parish.”
The cardinal said he wants Msgr. LaMorte’s “full-time” focus to be on the archdiocese’s pastoral, evangelical and spiritual matters.
Cahill said, “The cardinal’s wisdom was that it would be best having two people do those jobs, each one having quite a bit of responsibility to them.” He said he looks forward to working with the cardinal and Msgr. LaMorte to face “the opportunities and challenges of the archdiocese.”
In his first months at the archdiocese, Cahill said he has been “growing increasingly impressed by the caliber of people around here.”
Before coming to the archdiocese, Cahill served as senior counsel at the law firm of Norton Rose Fulbright where his focus was on energy and environmental law, and he was recognized as one of the nation’s top utility lawyers.
He also served as secretary to the governor from 2002 to 2006 during the administration of Gov. George Pataki. He earlier served as commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Before joining state service, he was a partner in the New York City law firm of Plunkett & Jaffe P.C., where his practice focused on environmental and municipal issues.
Cahill was a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The Adirondack Council, the National Audubon Society, the Historic Hudson Valley and The Rockefeller Institute of Government have all recognized him for his efforts for the environment and public service.
He received a Juris Doctor degree in 1985 and a master’s in environmental law in 1992, both from Pace University School of Law. He also received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Fordham University.
Cahill and his wife, Kim, are the parents of four children, John, Meghan, Erin and James. The Cahills are active parishioners at Sacred Heart in Yonkers. “It’s a wonderful parish,” Cahill said.