House Chaplain Patrick Conroy to Step Down In May

Jesuit priest has served in the role since 2011

House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy, right, attends a swearing-in ceremony for the new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in 2016 with Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., center, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The in-house chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives is stepping down next month after seven years in the post.

Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, 67, a Catholic priest of the Jesuit order, has served in the post since 2011, when then-Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pegged him for the post.

In his role, Conroy “focuses his ministry on building relationships and providing a spiritual presence in the House,” according to his House web page. “With his guitar frequently in hand and his door always open, he aims to provide House Members and staff with meaningful pastoral experiences and opportunities that enable them to grow spiritually and perform their duties to the best of their ability.”

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin commended Conroy for his work as chaplain Monday.

“As chaplain, Father Conroy has been a great source of strength and support to our community,” Ryan said in a statement. “He is deeply admired by members and staff. Father Conroy’s ministry here has made a difference, and we are all very grateful to him.”

After being ordained in 1983, Conroy was pastor on the Colville and Spokane Indian reservations in his native Washington state and worked at the National Office of Jesuit Social Ministries in D.C.

He served as chaplain at Georgetown and Seattle universities, principally directing student retreats, before teaching theology and coaching softball at Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon.

He also served as superior of the Jesuit community in Portland for three years.

The primary duty of the House chaplain is to offer a prayer at the commencement of each day’s sitting of the House, per the chamber’s rules. The prayers are broadcast live on HouseLive.gov and C-SPAN and are archived in the congressional record.

Members can nominate other clergy to deliver the opening prayer.

The next House chaplain will be appointed by a majority vote after Ryan nominates one, in consultation with Pelosi.

All 60 House chaplains have been Christian, but they can be from any faith. Muslim and Jewish guest chaplains have delivered the opening prayer before.

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