Most Rev. John M. Dougherty

04/29/2022 - 04/16/2022


Obituary For Most Rev. John M. Dougherty

SCRANTON – The Most Reverend John M. Dougherty, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Scranton, died April 16, 2022, at his family’s home in Scranton.

He was born April 29, 1932, in Scranton, the son of the late Edward A. and Irene C. Kern Dougherty.

He was installed as the sixth auxiliary bishop of Scranton on March 7, 1995, and served until August 31, 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation two years after reaching the mandatory retirement age.

As a member of Saint Paul Parish, Scranton, Bishop Dougherty attended the parochial grade school and graduated from Saint Paul High School in June 1949. In September of the same year, Bishop Dougherty entered Saint Charles College, Catonsville, Md., where he studied for two years.

In the spring of 1951, Bishop Dougherty applied to become a seminary student for the Diocese of Scranton. He began his priestly studies on September 19, 1951, at St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, Md. Bishop Dougherty earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s in June 1953. Three years later, he received a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. Bishop Dougherty returned to further studies at St. Mary’s where he earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1957.

Bishop Dougherty was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Scranton in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Scranton, on June 15, 1957, by Bishop Jerome D. Hannan.

On June 29, 1957, Bishop Dougherty was appointed assistant pastor of Saint Ann Parish, Tobyhanna, a community he served for more than seven years. In preparation for the opening of St. Pius X Seminary, Dalton, in September 1962, he was named Professor of Ascetical Theology by Bishop Hannan on March 28, 1962.

Bishop Dougherty was given an additional responsibility in September 1964, which brought him to his first post in the Chancery. He was appointed Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith by Bishop Hannan.

On May 19, 1968, Pope Paul VI named Bishop Dougherty a Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor. In the same year, he was appointed Vicar for Religious by Bishop J. Carroll McCormick.

Four years later, Bishop McCormick appointed him Assistant Chancellor of the Diocese. A further responsibility was placed on Bishop Dougherty when he assumed the duties of the Diocesan Pro-Life Director in February 1976.

The following year, on September 6, 1977, Bishop Dougherty was appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton by Bishop McCormick.

He was named a Prelate of Honor on November 2, 1978, by Pope John Paul II. On June 7, 1984, the day of Bishop James C. Timlin’s installation as the Eighth Bishop of Scranton, Bishop Dougherty was appointed Vicar General, Moderator of the Curia and Diocesan Consultor.

Bishop Dougherty was named pastor of Saint Patrick Parish, Scranton, on September 4, 1985. The parish community included the churches of Saint Patrick, Holy Cross, Saint John the Baptist and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pope John Paul II named Bishop Dougherty the Titular Bishop of Sufetula and Auxiliary to the Bishop of Scranton on February 7, 1995. His episcopal ordination took place on March 7, 1995, in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Scranton, with Bishop James C. Timlin serving as consecrator.

At the time of his Episcopal Appointment, Cardinal John O’Connor, seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, lauded Bishop Dougherty’s wisdom, pastoral concern, deep spirituality and profound respect for every human person, saying no one was more respected or admired by the priests, deacons, religious and people of Scranton.

On June 30, 1995, Bishop Dougherty was appointed Rector of Villa Saint Joseph, Dunmore, a position he held for nearly nine years. On March 1, 2004, Bishop Joseph F. Martino gave him significant additional collaborative responsibility in the daily administration of the Diocese by naming him Vicar for Administration, a newly created central administrative post at the time.

Bishop Dougherty continued his service to the Diocese through appointments on the Council of Priests and Board of Consultors between 2005 and 2010. Even after retirement, as Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus, Bishop Dougherty served in residence at Christ the King Parish in Archbald prior to Bishop Joseph C. Bambera appointing him to serve as Administrator, pro tem, at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Jermyn in June 2019.

Since his ordination to the priesthood in 1957 and the various pastoral, teaching and administrative positions within the Diocese, Bishop Dougherty also was a member of the American Catholic Historical Association and was elected by Catholic Distance University in Hamilton, Va., to serve on its board of trustees.

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  • 04/28/2022

    I worked for the Diocese for five years about two decades ago. I remember being in awe (and a little intimidated) by Bishop Dougherty of his deep holiness. But even more, I was struck by his deep love for the poor, the suffering and immigrants, especially the Hispanic community in the Diocese. I recall when my father had open heart surgery at Mercy Hospital in Scranton. He was just put into ICU for recovery and as he was wheeled in on the gurney, Bishop Dougherty was there, visiting patients. He asked about my Dad and then he went in and sat and prayed with him for a number of minutes. At that moment, my Dad was Bishop Dougherty's entire focus. But for Bishop Dougherty, this was nothing unusual; he did this all the time. God was his center and he reached out to all in need. He followed Christ in his ministry and now is with Him eternally in Heaven.

  • 04/27/2022

    Thank you Bishop Dougherty, for everything you did for us. Joe and Terry Plummer

  • 04/26/2022

    My deepest sympathy to the Bishop's was a pleasure to have known such a kind, compassionate and thoughtful man. His presence in the community truly will be missed. Rose Zielinski

  • 04/26/2022

    Our beloved Bishop Dougherty was a true reflection of God's infinite love and mercy. A humble and dedicated servant of God . May God reward him with eternal peace in Heaven. Amen

  • 04/26/2022

    I recall the Bishop as having the unique ability to lift me up from beneath unbearable suffering and pain and lead me to Christ. He was the solution to despair. When my father died he said to me You have to be happy with everything he gave you and let him go back to God. I thought that was a rather harsh penance but shall try to do the same for him. Be Happy for everything he gave us and send him back to God. Alice Coyle

  • 04/25/2022

    What a blessing it has been to have known this holy priest since his first assignment at St. Ann's Parish in Tobyhanna. It was he who would drive me each week from Pocono Pines to the IHM convent in Tobyhanna to receive instructions from Mother Leo as I prepared to become a Catholic at the age of 11. He continued to guide our family in faith as my brother and mother were soon also welcomed into the Church. For many years after he continued his ministry in other places, I would often see Bishop Dougherty quietly slipping into a vigil service to pray for the soul of a former parishioner. His prayerful attentiveness to our mother through her illnesses later in life was so deeply appreciated. Whenever she was admitted to the hospital, she always asked that we call him, and of course he never failed to make those visits to her hospital room. His last visit to her was when he left the table between courses at the dinner after Confirmation at Our Lady of the Lake to walk 3 doors down to her home to pray with her. She passed away peacefully two days later. Fr. Paisley's description captured the essence of this humble, dedicated, holy priest with that dry sense of humor that always brought a smile. What a joy it was to welcome Bishop Dougherty at our Confirmations and to witness the impact he made on the students, their families, and everyone present. Fr. Sahd described it so well at the vesper service! The love of Christ so filled him that it could not be contained. I am sure that many who were present still recall bits and pieces of the wisdom and spiritual guidance he shared. I know that, above all, they will always remember the love he had for every soul. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant!

  • 04/25/2022

    Only meeting him a few times, I was always happy to see him. He loved Jesus, Mary, the Church, the priesthood, the youth. He cared so much for the poor and the sick. I remember when he did the opening Mass for the Novena to Saint Ann, that at the end of Mass he was supposed to chant "The Lord be with you....Blessed be the Name of the Lord..." (*we know the rest of the Apostolic Blessing... rather, he chanted "The Lord be with you.....I was just informed that there are announcements." And in regular voice he told everyone to sit down. I never knew he had a sense of humor like that.

  • 04/25/2022

    Our family will always remember the kindness and compassion exhibited by you Bishop Dougherty towards us. My parents, Arthur and Jean Derbin adored you! It is my hope that you are all united with our Lord in heaven. Sending prayers and healing thoughts to your family at this difficult time. Rest in the Lord kind man and priest to us all. Respectfully, Kim Derbin

  • 04/25/2022

    Bishop Dougherty, Thank you for always bringing Christ to the world. Your example of humility and holiness was so admirable; combine that with your wisdom and grace🕊💕🕊💕and you get your unique presence. I know you are resting in Christ's Holy Peace🕯 Love you and miss you. Michelle, Carl and Lily Giovagnoli

  • 04/24/2022

    I know he was a Bishop but he will always be Monsignor Doherty, our parish priest for 10 years. He was the holiest man I ever met. He truly lived his faith and was as saint-like as anyone in the world. To have had him as a member of your family was a blessing from God.

  • 04/24/2022

    Deepest sympathy and regards to Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty. Stella, Randall Sr. and Randall Kasorek Jr.

  • 04/21/2022


  • 04/20/2022

    In the video I watched of Bishop Dougherty that's my Uncle Chester & Aunt Eileen Buzzinsky. My Uncle had a stroke & Bishop went to his home with Communion for them. My Uncle made wooden swings & chairs to be donated to St. Patrick's Festival. They were Blessed to have Bishop Dougherty go to see them. Rest easy now Bishop. Be with Our Lord. Bill & Susan Buzzinsky Gilday ✝️🙏🏻💜

  • 04/20/2022

    Blessings to an incredible priest.

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