New House Chaplain

Father Conroy

Reverend Patrick J. Conroy becomes House’s 60th chaplain

The House recently welcomed its newest officer. On May 25, House members voted to appoint Reverend Patrick J. Conroy—a pastor with experience as a university chaplain, high school teacher, and attorney—the body’s 60th chaplain. Conroy is the first Jesuit to hold the position.

House Speaker John Boehner, in consultation with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi,   nominated Conroy in early May. “His dedication to God’s work, commitment to serving others, and experience working with people of faith from all traditions will make him an asset to the House community,” Boehner said at the time.  “His experience working with young people, tending to the spiritual needs of a variety of communities, and serving for 38 years as a thoughtful and committed Jesuit priest will serve him well in this new role,” Pelosi added.

Conroy, 60, most recently taught theology at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. Before that, he served as a chaplain at Georgetown University and Seattle University, and as a pastor at various locations in Washington state, including the Colville and Spokane Indian reservations.

Conroy described his new position as a chance “to do greater good” by supporting a unique population that represents all Americans. “I really feel that this is an opportunity to serve.” At the same time, Conroy emphasized that his job as a chaplain is the same wherever he is and whomever he is counseling. “It is about encountering whoever the person is where they are today. How that is valued or becomes valuable is beyond my intention.”

The chaplain is an elected officer of the House. He or she opens House proceedings with prayer and provides pastoral counseling to House members and staff, among other duties. The House Chaplain has carried out these roles since the House’s inception in 1789. In 1800, when Congress moved from New York to Washington, the House Chaplain briefly took on another role. He sometimes conducted Sunday services in the House chamber, as there were so few houses of worship in the new capital city.

A native of Everett, Washington, Conroy was ordained a Catholic priest in 1983. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Claremont Men’s College in Claremont, California, a master’s degree in philosophy from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and a law degree from St. Louis University. He has a Master of Divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Regis College of the University of Toronto.

Conroy succeeds Daniel P. Coughlin, who retired in April after more than 11 years as House Chaplain.

For more information, visit the Office of the Chaplain’s website.