Father James J. Greenfield, provincial of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales since 2008, has been elected the fourth president of DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., effective next Jan. 1, the university announced March 16.
Father Greenfield, 55, a member of the university’s board of trustees for nearly 15 years, will be the first alumnus of DeSales to become its president. He graduated from what was then called Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales in 1984 with a degree in politics. He succeeds Oblate Father Bernard F. O’Connor, who has served since 1999.
“From my time as a student and now proud alumnus and trustee, I have experienced firsthand the deepening of the school’s commitment to forming students in our rich Catholic tradition, especially through its high quality teaching, impressive academic offerings, and varied student programs. I am excited to help build on these strengths,” Father Greenfield said.
As provincial, Father Greenfield is the leader of 145 priests, brothers and seminarians who serve along the East Coast. In the Diocese of Wilmington, the Oblates own and staff Salesianum School, and they also serve at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Wilmington, Immaculate Conception Parish in Elkton, Md., St. Thomas More Oratory in Newark, and Nativity Prep in Wilmington. In addition, they assist in various parishes, and they maintain a residence, retirement facility and cemetery in Childs, Md., in Cecil County.
Father Greenfield first came to the Diocese of Wilmington in the mid-1980s as a seminarian, teaching religion at Salesianum. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1990 and was vocation director for the province from 1990-94, living in Wilmington from 1991-94. He has served as an adjunct lecturer at several universities in Washington, D.C., and in various capacities with the Oblates.
“I remain grateful for my ministry as provincial,” Father Greenfield said. “Leading and representing my brother Oblates has been a singular honor and source of great pride. Even amid moments of difficulty, we were able to advance our mission and continue to provide fine pastoral care to our students, parishioners, and friends here in the Diocese of Wilmington. The strength of our history in this local church deepens through greater collaboration with our lay colleagues.”
He is the current chairman of the board of trustees at Salesianum and a member of the board at Nativity Prep, along with schools in his native Philadelphia. He will remain on those boards. He also served from 2013-16 as president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, representing the country’s 17,000 religious-order priests and brothers.
Father O’Connor, who grew up in Salem County, N.J., is a 1962 graduate of Salesianum and a member of the school’s hall of fame. He has been at DeSales University full-time since 1980.