On Friday, 11 February, Coakley, 55, will be installed as leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He was appointed in December by Pope Benedict XVI.
Coakley will replace the Most Rev. Eusebius J. Beltran, who turned 75 in August 2009, the mandatory retirement age for bishops in the Catholic church.
As he prepares to leave Kansas, Coakley said he had mixed feelings about moving away.
“I’ve been here most of my life,” he said. “I was raised in Kansas City and was a priest in the Wichita diocese for 21 years. I’ve been the bishop in Salina for six years. I’m grateful for the blessings I’ve had here.”
During his tenure as bishop, Coakley said he is proud of his accomplishments, specifically in three areas: recruiting new priests, developing and embarking on a five-year campaign to raise $15 million for the Catholic Diocese of Salina, and implementing a new strategic pastoral plan for the diocese called “Stewards of Hope.”
Coakley said that as he leaves Salina, 17 men are in the seminary, preparing for the priesthood in the Salina diocese.
“I’ve worked hard to promote a cultivation toward the priesthood,” he said.
As archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Coakley will oversee 67 parishes ranging across 42,000 square miles.
“It’s largely rural areas, although you do have the large metropolitan area of Oklahoma City,” he said.
Once installed, Coakley said one of his highest priorities will be to find new priests to enter the seminary.
“There is a need there, as there is here,” he said. “There will be a lot of other needs when I get familiar with the culture and circumstances there. It’s a strong diocese and in good shape, and I’m very grateful for that.”