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Most Rev. George William Coleman

Deceased: 2024-05-24


Seminary Graduation Year: 1965

Most Reverend George W. Coleman, Bishop Emeritus of Fall River who faithfully served as the Seventh Bishop of Fall River from July 2003 to September 2014, passed away Friday, May 24, 2024 at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River where earlier in the week he had undergone surgery. He was 85 years old.

In December of this year, Bishop Coleman would have observed his 60th anniversary of 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 Bishop da Cunha on September 24, 2014. In retirement, while able, Bishop Emeritus Coleman continued to serve the Diocese, often assisting with parish Masses.

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, OFM Cap. to the Diocese of Palm Beach in Florida in the fall of 2002.

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

He graduated from the former Msgr. James Coyle High School in Taunton in 1957 and then 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.

He was ordained a priest in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome 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.

He was appointed to direct the Diocesan Department of Education, a post he held for 8 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.

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 of 1994 Bishop O’Malley reorganized the administration of the Fall River Diocese and appointed then Father 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 Bishop O’Malley’s transfer.

In addition to his sister, he is survived by one nephew, Christopher Keegan and his wife Diana, two great nephews, Matthew and Patrick Keegan all of Milford, MA and cousin Cindy Day of Falmouth.

His Visitation will be held on Thursday, May 30, 2024 from 3:00 to 7:00PM, with a Vigil Service at 7:00PM, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Spring St., Fall River. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, May 31, at 11:00AM, also at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Contributions in his honor may be to the Priest Retirement Fund, c/o The Chancery Finance Office, 450 Highland Avenue, Fall River, MA 02720. Burial in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Somerset. Arrangements are in the care of the Waring-Sullivan Home at Cherry Place, Fall River.