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Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Maginnis of Philadelphia, longtime pastor, CYO leader in archdiocese, dies at 88

Inmates receive the sacrament of confirmation from Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Maginnis at the State Correctional Institution in Chester, Pa., in this 2008 photo. Bishop Maginnis died at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, Pa., Sept. 14, 2022. He was 88. (CNS photo/Sarah Webb, Catholic Standard and Times)

PHILADELPHIA– Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Maginnis of Philadelphia died at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, Pennsylvania, the evening of Sept. 14 following a lengthy illness. He was 88.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on a date to be determined. Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez will be the principal celebrant.

The liturgy will be open to the public and will be broadcast live via streaming vieo at https://vimeo.com/event/17522.

In a Sept. 15 statement, Archbishop Pérez said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Bishop Maginnis’ passing, noting the bishop had for more than 60 years” served God’s people tirelessly and selflessly with grace and compassion.”

He also described Bishop Maginnis as possessing the “true spirit of a missionary disciple,” who was able to see “the face of Christ in everyone he met. … (He) shared the warm and comforting light of Christ’s love with them.”

Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Maginnis of Philadelphia is seen in his official archdiocesan photo in 2001. He died at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, Pa., Sept. 14, 2022, at age 88. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Philadelphia)

As “a man of great joy and charity,” Bishop Maginnis “positively impacted the lives he touched in deeply positive ways,” said the archbishop.

Born Dec. 22, 1933, in Philadelphia to William and Cecilia Maginnis, Robert Patrick Maginnis was the youngest of four children. He attended elementary school at St. Aloysius Academy in West Chester, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1948, and then enrolled in St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia.

Following high school graduation in 1952, he entered in the program of priestly formation at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in theological studies and a master of divinity degree.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia May 13, 1961, by Cardinal John J. Krol in the first class of priests he ordained as archbishop of Philadelphia.

After ordination, Father Maginnis was an assistant pastor at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Abington (1961-1964) and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Chester (1964-1967), both in Pennsylvania.

Recognizing Father Maginnis’ administrative capabilities and his ability to connect with young people, Cardinal Krol called him to serve the broader local church. In 1967, he was appointed assistant director of the archdiocese’s Department of Youth Activities and became director of the Office for Youth and Young Adults in 1981.

Father Maginnis was named a monsignor by St. John Paul II Apr. 24, 1982. Msgr. Maginnis remained at the helm of Office for Youth and Young Adults until 1988, when he was appointed pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania.

For more than two decades, he worked tirelessly to evangelize young people of the region. Many of the programs and initiatives created during that time exist to this day in one form or another and remain popular.

In 1991, Msgr. Maginnis was named regional vicar for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a position he held for five years.

St. John Paul named Msgr. Maginnis an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia Jan. 24, 1996. His episcopal ordination was March 11 of that year at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, then archbishop of Philadelphia, was the principal consecrator.

In June of that same year, Bishop Maginnis was appointed pastor of St. Colman Parish in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and was a cherished shepherd during his eight years leading that community.

As part of his pastoral and administrative responsibilities, Bishop Maginnis oversaw the work of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Evangelization from 2004 until his retirement in 2010.

As an auxiliary bishop, he also guided efforts undertaken by the metropolitan tribunal, the chancery office and the offices for Consecrated Life, Research and Planning, Black Catholics and Hispanic Catholics. In addition, he was the driving force behind the launch of the inaugural Archdiocesan Men’s Spirituality Conference in 2009, an initiative that remains vibrant more than a decade later.

In 2007, Bishop Maginnis was chosen by the Philadelphia Daily News as one of its “75 Greatest Living Philadelphians.” In 2009, he was inducted into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic Youth Organization Hall of Fame, in recognition of his 21 years of work in youth ministry.

After his retirement, Bishop Maginnis remained highly engaged in the life of the church and dedicated time and energy to its charitable endeavors.

Until declining health limited his activity, he spent several years living at St. Edmond’s Home for Children in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, a residential care facility for children and young adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Bishop Maginnis served as their chaplain throughout his residency.

“His legacy is an indelible one of missionary discipleship,” said Archbishop Pérez, adding that he counted times spent with the bishop, whom he called “a friend and mentor,” as “a great blessing.”

“May God grant him the gift of eternal life and bring comfort to those who mourn his passing,” he added.