House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today swore in Father Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., as the 60th chaplain of the House of Representatives. Earlier this month, in consultation with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker Boehner announced his intent to nominate Father Conroy to succeed Father Daniel P. Coughlin. The House confirmed the nomination by unanimous voice vote. Speaker Boehner made brief remarks on the House floor welcoming and congratulating Father Conroy prior to his swearing-in:
“One of the most important members of the House community is not a member of Congress. Upon its inception, the House elected a chaplain to deliver the opening prayer, continuing a tradition started by the First Continental Congress. As the House has grown, so has the role of the chaplain, who members, officers, and staff look to for advice and counsel.
“The chaplain also sees to the well-being of this institution, which serves people of all faiths, and a Nation that has always put its trust in God. Our national motto is an echo of the 16th psalm: ‘Preserve me, O God, for in thee do I put my trust.’ These words are etched on the stained glass window in the prayer room here in the Capitol.
“In many ways, the chaplain is the anchor of the House. So it was with regret last month that we bid farewell to Father Dan, who retired after 11 years of distinguished service. But always looking out for us, Father Dan left behind one last blessing…he recommended someone who he felt would be a worthy successor. And, no surprise, Father was right.
“Father Pat Conroy comes to us from the Northwest: he was born and raised in Washington state, and has spent much of his priesthood in Oregon. Next month, he will mark his 28th year as a Jesuit priest. Father Pat also served here in our capital city – he was a chaplain at Georgetown University for a total of 10 years. And he has a deep appreciation for public service – before being called into the priesthood, Father Pat felt a calling to politics, specifically the United States Senate. Father, something tells me you’ll fit in fine right here.
“I think it’s important to give the House a sense of Father Pat’s character. This is from a letter he wrote expressing his willingness to serve as chaplain: ‘As a Jesuit, I believe it a part of my calling to find God in all things, and to discover the spirit of God present in the people I encounter, and whom I serve. I wish to say that ‘I am ready and willing’ should those to be served deem me worthy of this ministry. Though true of any ministry, the position would call me to a radical reliance upon the grace of God, which would also be God’s gift.’
“It’s clear this loyal servant of the faithful is uniquely suited to serve as chaplain of the people’s House. Leader Pelosi and I have gotten a chance to know Father Pat, and we’re honored that he has accepted our invitation to serve as chaplain. We are blessed to have his guidance and his wisdom as we discharge our duties and fulfill our obligations to current and future generations of Americans. Please join me in welcoming and congratulating the 60th chaplain of the House of Representatives, Father Pat Conroy.”