Area priest to lead Oblates of St. Joseph


January 18, 2013

The Rev. Paul McDonnell, a West Pittston native, has been appointed to lead the Oblates of St. Joseph community in America, just days after moving to California for a new assignment. The announcement was made by Superior General of the Oblates of St. Joseph, the Very Rev. Michele Piscopo in Rome.

The order's East Coast Province, based in Pittston, and the West Coast Province, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., are being merged into one. The merger will become official on March 14.

McDonnell, 48, will be the first provincial superior of the newly formed USA province of the Oblates of St. Joseph. He will oversee the 50 priests and brothers and more than 30,000 faithful. The order runs three churches in Pennsylvania (St. Joseph Marello Parish in Pittston, St. Barbara's in Exeter and Holy Annunciation in Hazleton) and three churches in California. It also operates three seminaries, one in Laflin, two in California and the order's headquarters in Santa Cruz, Calif.

McDonnell will remain in California, but plans to travel back and forth between the two coasts.

He plans to return to Greater Pittston to celebrate a Mass for the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19 in the chapel at the seminary in Laflin.

It's very humbling to be asked to lead our community, McDonnell said. Also, a little overwhelming. I'm taking on a pretty big responsibility.

McDonnell will be officially installed, along with his future provincial council, with ceremonies being held in Pennsylvania and California.

McDonnell left Pittston Jan. 10 for his new, temporary assignment, which has him taking over St. Joseph Marello Parish in Granite Bay, Calif.

McDonnell, the son of Thomas and Shirley (Petrello) McDonnell, is a 1982 graduate of Wyoming Area High School and entered the Oblates of St. Joseph Seminary, Laflin, immediately after graduation. While a seminarian, he attended King's College in Wilkes-Barre and earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy.

From 1986 to 1991, he studied in Rome, where he earned a bachelor's degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and a master's degree in pastoral theology at the Lateran University.

Bishop Joseph Bambera offered his praise on behalf of the Diocese of Scranton.

In addition to his service as rector of the Oblates seminary, Father Paul, a native son of our diocese, has served in several local parishes and provided assistance to many others by celebrating Mass when called upon, Bambera said in a statement. I am grateful for his generous and faithful presence here over the years. I offer Father Paul my prayers for God's blessings and wisdom as he enters this new phase of his priestly ministry.