The Most Rev. Paul Coakley, who spent 21 years as a priest in the Wichita diocese before being appointed bishop of the Salina diocese six years ago, has been selected by Pope Benedict XVI to be the next archbishop of Oklahoma City.
Speaking Thursday at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Coakley said he is "both very excited and deeply humbled" by the appointment.
"This new pastoral responsibility is an opportunity and a challenge that I certainly had not sought, but one which I will eagerly embrace with all my heart," Coakley said in a statement. "I trust that it is the Lord who has called me here, and so I am confident that He will provide the grace and make fruitful my ministry among you."
The archdiocese of Oklahoma City comprises 46 counties in central and western Oklahoma, with 67 parishes, 44 mission churches and nearly 109,000 Catholics. The dioceses of Tulsa and Little Rock are also under the auspices of the archdiocese.
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Coakley, 55, was born in Virginia and moved with his family to Louisiana and then to northeast Kansas in 1965.
After graduating from high school in Overland Park, Coakley earned a degree in English and Classical Antiquities in 1977. He briefly considered monastic vocation before going into the seminary.
He was ordained a priest for the Wichita diocese in May 21, 1983. Among the parishes he served as pastor were Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Thomas Aquinas and Church of the Resurrection in Wichita, and St. Mary's in Derby.