Diocese of Fall River mourns Bishop Emeritus George Coleman, dead at age 85 (2024)

FALL RIVER — The Diocese of Fall River has announced the death of the Most Reverend George W. Coleman, who served as the seventh Bishop of Fall River from July 2003 to September 2014.

Bishop Emeritus Coleman died May 24, at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River where earlier last week he had undergone surgery. He was 85 years old.

In announcing his death, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, who succeeded Coleman, said, “While we mourn his passing and will miss him dearly, we are also consoled by the promise of the resurrection, and the certainty that he, a good and faithful servant of the Church, will be rewarded for all the good he has done in this life, and will be our new intercessor in heaven.”

Da Cunha is asking that all join him in prayer for the eternal repose of his “beautiful soul and for the consolation of his family, friends, clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Fall River.”

Diocese of Fall River mourns Bishop Emeritus George Coleman, dead at age 85 (1)

Nearly six decades of service to the Catholic church

In December of this year, Coleman would have observed the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He was recognized for this significant milestone at the diocesan Chrism Mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River this year during Holy Week.

It was in that same cathedral where he was ordained a bishop and installed as the leader of the Diocese of Fall River on July 22, 2003. That began an 11-year tenure of dedicated faithful, humble, and competent ministry as he worked to fulfill the many responsibilities of being bishop. He retired at the age 75, as required, and was succeeded by da Cunha on Sept. 24, 2014. In retirement, while able, Coleman continued to serve the diocese, often assisting with parish Masses.

Diocese of Fall River mourns Bishop Emeritus George Coleman, dead at age 85 (2)

Read more:Fall River Diocese Bishop George Coleman to reach retirement age Saturday

His appointment to the episcopacy came as he was serving as administrator of the Diocese of Fall River following the transfer of then-Bishop Sean P. O’Malley to the Diocese of Palm Beach in Florida in the fall of 2002.

Coleman was a Fall River native

A native of the diocese, Coleman was born in Fall River on Feb. 1, 1939, the son of the late George W. and Beatrice K. (Shea) Coleman, and raised in Somerset, along with one sister, Eileen.

He graduated from the former Msgr. James Coyle High School in Taunton in 1957 and attended Holy Cross College in Worcester. He prepared for the priesthood at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and at the North American College in Rome, where he also earned a graduate degree in sacred theology from the Gregorian University.

Diocese of Fall River mourns Bishop Emeritus George Coleman, dead at age 85 (3)

He was ordained a priest in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on December 16, 1964.

His first assignment was as curate or associate pastor at St. Kilian’s Parish, New Bedford, where he served from 1965 to 1967. He was then assigned to minister in the same capacity at the former St. Louis Parish, Fall River, until 1972, and from there to Our Lady of Victory Parish, Centerville, until 1977.

From The Pulpit:Give thanks to outgoing Bishop Coleman

He was then appointed to direct the Diocesan Department of Education, a post he held for eight years, overseeing Catholic schools, parish religious education and campus ministry programs in the diocese.

In 1982 he also became pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Fall River.

Diocese of Fall River mourns Bishop Emeritus George Coleman, dead at age 85 (4)

Dean of the Cape and Islands Deanery

He left both posts in 1985 to become pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Sandwich, where he served until 1994. From 1990 to 1994 he was dean of the Cape and Islands Deanery.

In August 1994, O’Malley reorganized the administration of the Fall River Diocese and appointed Coleman to the position of vicar general and first moderator of the Curia.

Later that same year, he was named by Pope John Paul II to the rank of Prelate of Honor with the title of reverend monsignor.

On October 22, 2002, he was elected to serve as administrator of the diocese by his peers on the College of Consultors following O’Malley’s transfer.

At a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated in August 2014, a few weeks before his retirement, Coleman recalled in his homily that shortly after becoming bishop, he received a letter from a third-grader who expressed his hope that the new job would be “fun.” Coleman said, “It has been fun, only surpassed by the ever-deepening joy of being Christ’s instrument” in the Diocese of Fall River.

A wake for Coleman will take place on Thursday, May 30, from 3 to 8 p.m., with a Vigil Service at 7 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, 327 Second St., Fall River. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Friday, May 31, at 11 a.m., also at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Diocese of Fall River mourns Bishop Emeritus George Coleman, dead at age 85 (2024)

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