Bookmark and Share

August 4, 2000


The Most Reverend John Joseph Graham, D.D., S.T.D., retired Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia and Pastor Emeritus, Saint Helena Church, in the Olney section of Philadelphia, died today at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby, Pennsylvania. He was 86 years old.

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia said, "I am deeply saddened by the death this morning of our beloved senior Bishop, Most Reverend John Joseph Graham, a devoted and zealous servant of the Church and a holy man of God. Bishop Graham's death is a significant loss to the people of Philadelphia and the faithful of the Archdiocese. His presence among us will be greatly missed.

Bishop Graham's legacy will reach far into the years ahead, as his untiring work in education, human relations, ecumenism and interfaith cooperation has left foundations of strength on which many of our programs have been secured. Bishop Graham will be remembered most particularly for his love and solicitude for children with mental disabilities. His profound trust in God, his humility in infirmity, especially during recent years, and his unceasing, resounding voice in behalf of God's people, have brought each of us a step closer to the God who created and sustains us all.

We raise our voices in thanksgiving to God for Bishop Graham, and the graces and blessings brought on us through his life and episcopacy. We ask that the people of Philadelphia remember him in their prayers."

John Joseph Graham was born September 11, 1913. He was one of seven children of Margaret and James Graham, both of whom immigrated to the United States from County Antrim, Ireland. He attended Saint Michael Parochial School in Philadelphia and received his high school education at Saint Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia. After entering Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood to begin studies for the priesthood, John Graham was sent as a seminarian to Saint John Lateran Seminary in Rome, where he received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology. John Graham was ordained to the priesthood on February 26, 1938, by the then Archbishop Luigi Traglia, at the Pontifical Roman Seminary in Rome.

Following his ordination to the priesthood, Father Graham served as Assistant Pastor, Saint Luke the Evangelist Church, Glenside (1939-1940); Faculty, Roman Catholic High School for Boys, Philadelphia (l940-l945); Assistant Pastor, Saint George Church, Glenolden (1945-1946); Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (1946-1959); Superintendent of Special Education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (1959-1967). During this period many educational facilities were developed under Father Graham's direction to care for children with special learning needs. On September 12, 1959, Father Graham was named Domestic Prelate, with the title of Monsignor. Monsignor Graham served as Administrator, and later Pastor, of Holy Angels Church, Philadelphia (1960-1964). He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia and Titular Bishop of Sabrata by Pope Paul VI on November 25, 1963 and was consecrated as Bishop on January 7, 1964. Bishop Graham was a member of the Archdiocesan School Board (1961-1966) and was Pastor, Saint Helena Church, Philadelphia (1964 to 1990). He was Archdiocesan Director, Catholic Charities Appeal (1964-1976); Chairman, Cardinal's Commission on Human Relations (1964-1982); and Member, College of Consultors (1964 to 1999), and Member, Council of Priests (1984 to 1999).

Bishop Graham is predeceased by his brother, Reverend James A. Graham, and five sisters, Sister Mary Assisium, C.R.S.M., Miss Mary J. Graham and Miss Catherine R Graham of Havertown; Mrs. John F. McCann of Pennwynne and Mrs. James P. Nolan of Pennwynne. The Bishop is survived by nieces Sister Christine McCann, R.S.M., of Merion; Sister Mercedes McCann, R.S.M., of Dunellen, NJ; Eileen Aurand of Havertown; and Peg Castagna of Havertown.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Wednesday, August 9th

1:30 p.m.
Reception of the Body and Mid-Day Prayer

St. Helena Roman Catholic Church
Fifth Street and Godfrey Avenue
Olney section of Philadelphia

2:00 p.m. Public Viewing

6:00 p.m. Celebration of Mass

Thursday, August 10th

9:00 a.m.
Reception of Body and Morning Prayer

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Center City Philadelphia

9:30 a.m. Public Viewing

2:00 p.m. Solemn Funeral Mass

followed by Internment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

More details on funeral arrangements will be provided next week.

Catherine L. Rossi
Director of Communications

Back to Top