Siena College President Edward Coughlin Dies

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, 71, a professed Franciscan friar for 47 years, died on July 30 at Strong Memorial Hospital, where he suffered a stroke after heart surgery on July 23. He had worked for most of his religious life in leadership roles in education and for the Province. Since 2014, Edward had served as president of Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y.

Funeral services will be held at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York where Ed was an alumnus, trustee, professor and administrator. A wake will be held on Aug. 3 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the St. Bonaventure University Chapel with a wake and on Aug. 4 from 1 to p.m. to 6:30 p.m. A wake service is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. A Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 5. Burial will be at St. Bonaventure Cemetery.

“Franciscan brother – it was much more than a title in the life of Edward Coughlin – it was his identity,” said Provincial Minster Kevin Mullen, OFM. “He was a “Franciscan brother” to all. Whether meeting him for the first time or renewing a long-standing relationship, Ed was your ‘brother.’ Like St. Francis, he met you as an equal and immediately affirmed your dignity and worth. As a brother, he worked hard to advance your well-being. We will dearly miss our brother – Ed Coughlin – but if we follow his good example, his legacy will live on and continue to transform our world.”

Early Years
Ed was born on July 2, 1948, in Buffalo, N.Y., to James and Margaret (nee McGuire) Coughlin. After graduating from Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1970 from St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y.

He was received into the Franciscan Order on Sept. 6, 1970 in Lafayette, N.J., and professed his first vows on Aug. 29, 1971 in Brookline, Mass. Ed professed his final vows on Oct. 18, 1974, at St. Bonaventure University. He held a master’s degree from Boston College and a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Before moving to Siena in 2014, Ed served in a variety of roles, mainly in education and Provincial administration. He began his career at St. Bonaventure University, working in the Counseling and Placement Center from 1974 until 1977. He also served as an adjunct faculty member in SBU’s School of Education.

In 1977, he was assigned to St. Anne’s Parish in Fair Lawn, N. J., where he served as director of the Province’s pre-novitiate formation program. In 1978, he was assigned to Brookline, serving as the Province’s associate director of novices from 1978 to 1985, and director of initial formation from 1982 to 1987.

From 1987 until 1991, Ed was stationed at St. Francis Friary in New York City, while he served in a variety of provincial roles: delegate to the plenary council of the Order of Friars Minor held in Brazil, general visitor to St. John the Baptist Province, and director of ministerial development and planning, among others. He also served as an organizational consultant to the adult education program of St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street.

Through the years, Ed was elected to four terms on the Provincial Council, the first in 1980.

In 1991, he was assigned to St. Bonaventure University, where he served as director of The Franciscan Institute until 1996. In 1996, he moved back to New York City, where he served as Provincial Secretary until 2005. That year, he was named vice president for the Franciscan Mission at St. Bonaventure University, where he served for nine years. During that time, he taught at the Franciscan Institute and, in September 2006, he represented the Province at the Order’s Extraordinary Chapter in Assisi, Italy. He also served as the Province’s moderator of ongoing formation.

Five years ago, after the 2014 Provincial Chapter, Ed was named interim president of Siena College, held in June, when Kevin Mullen, was elected Provincial Minister. In October 2015, he was inaugurated as the college’s 11th president.

During his religious life, Ed authored more than 20 articles and book reviews. He presented at academic and pastoral conferences across the United States and around the world from New Jersey to Texas, Ireland to Japan and Bolivia to Zambia. He served on numerous boards of directors and trustees including those of Siena, St Bonaventure, Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities, and St. Francis Friends of the Poor Foundation. He also led pilgrimages to Franciscan sites in Europe.

He is survived by a brother, Joseph, and four sisters – Ann Devine, Kathleen Lynch, Mary Quinn, and Sheila Pingelski – and many nieces and nephews. His brother Timothy predeceased Ed.

In lieu of flowers,  Ed’s family and the friars of Holy Name Province suggest that donations be made to advance the Franciscan mission of one of the three Franciscan schools that helped form and shape Br. Ed’s life: Timon High School, Buffalo, NY; St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y; or Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y. Each institution will inform donors how their donation will be used in Br. Ed’s memory.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s note: information about Ed’s educational career can be found on announcements released by Siena College and St. Bonaventure University.

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