Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City Named Chairman of Board of Catholic Relief Services; Succeeds Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson

November 19, 2013 By Public Affairs Office
BALTIMORE–Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City has been appointed chairman of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Archbishop Kurtz made the announcement November 19.

Archbishop Coakley, a CRS board member since 2012 and a member of the board’s Governance and Nominations Committee, succeeds Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, of Tucson, Arizona, as CRS chairman.

“Archbishop Coakley has the gratitude of the USCCB for his willingness to take on this responsibility. A mere look at the evening news indicates how important CRS is in carrying the church’s compassion worldwide,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “I and the other members of the USCCB also want to voice our gratitude to Bishop Kicanas for his relentless efforts at CRS these past three years. He has led heroic efforts to address poverty and the effects of national disasters worldwide.”

Archbishop Coakley thanked Archbishop Kurtz “for entrusting me with this responsibility,” he said, and voiced gratitude to Bishop Kicanas “for his sterling example and dedication as the previous chair.”

“As a member of the CRS board I have witnessed CRS at work and know firsthand what an effective and essential organization it is,” Archbishop Coakley added. “Even now, as I transition into this role, more than 100 CRS workers are on the ground in the Philippines, offering their expertise and assistance as our Filipino brothers and sisters face great and unexpected suffering in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. The work of CRS – its mission to extend the love and compassion of Christ to the poor wherever there is need – continues.”

Carolyn Woo, PhD., CRS President and CEO, welcomed Archbishop Coakley as new chairman of the CRS board.

“Archbishop Coakley has been an active supporter of many of the issues that CRS works on, and I know his experience and expertise will be a great asset to this agency,” she said. "After marking 70 years of service to the poor this year, we look forward to Archbishop Coakley’s leadership at this important moment in CRS history."

“I’d also like to express my heartfelt thanks to Bishop Kicanas for his leadership and tremendous contributions to our agency. Over the last three years, this agency has faced both challenges and opportunities to increase and improve our services to those who suffer the most, and his leadership has guided CRS strategically and steadfastly to continue that mission,” Dr. Woo said.

As CRS board chair, Bishop Kicanas traveled extensively, with several trips to Lebanon, his ancestral home, to meet with Syrian refugees supported by CRS and its partners. He’s also traveled to Haiti, Cuba and several countries in Africa and Asia.  

The USCCB also elected three other bishops to the CRS board. Bishop Cirilo Flores, D.D., J.D., of San Diego, California, will serve his first term on the board beginning January 1, 2014. Bishop William P. Callahan, OFM Conv., of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, will continue as board members for a second term. The newly elected board member, Bishop Flores, will serve on the CRS Board for an initial term of three years with the option to serve another three years.

CRS would like to thank Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, Utah, for their committed service and dedication to the mission of CRS. Archbishop Sheehan has served as member of the Governance and Nominations Committee and has visited CRS programs in Nigeria and Bosnia. Bishop Wester has served as the Chair of the Overseas Operations Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee. He has traveled with CRS to South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. Both will be leaving the Board on Dec. 31 after serving two consecutive terms.

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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in 91 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on Twitter @CatholicRelief and @CRS_expertise; and

Media Contacts:
Tom Price
Catholic Relief Services
(410) 951-7450

Sister Mary Ann Walsh
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
(202) 541-3200 (o)