D. Michael McCarron retires as executive director of Catholic bishops’ conference after more than three decades of service

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The board of directors of the Florida Catholic Conference has approved plans of D. Michael McCarron, Ph.D. to step down as executive director at the end of this year.

Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pray before the second day of proceedings at the bishops' annual fall meeting Nov. 12 in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

DMichaelMcCarron20131115The board of directors of the Florida Catholic Conference has approved plans of D. Michael McCarron, Ph.D. to step down as executive director at the end of this year. Having served the Florida bishops for thirty-three years, the last eighteen as executive director, McCarron will continue to consult with the Conference on public policy issues and assist with special projects.

McCarron, 66, joined the Florida Catholic Conference in 1980 as its associate for education. He served as assistant executive director in 1994 and succeeded Thomas A. Horkan, Jr. as executive director in January 1995.

As executive director, McCarron directed and administered the work of the Conference on behalf of the bishops of Florida’s seven dioceses, who comprise its board of directors. He led Conference staff in analyzing the moral dimensions of public policies and in advocating for the defense of human life and dignity and the protection of the common good in Florida law.

“On behalf of my brother bishops, we are grateful for Mike McCarron’s years of extraordinary service to the bishops of Florida. Under his sound leadership, the Conference made significant strides in protecting the most vulnerable members of our society – whether unborn, poor, sick or dying, young or old, innocent or guilty, immigrant or citizen,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, president of the Florida Catholic Conference. “Mike McCarron’s unwavering commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the tenets of our faith will have a lasting influence on how the Church in Florida approaches public policy and respectfully engages those involved in the political arena.”

During his tenure with the Conference, McCarron developed and maintained relationships with key leaders in state government, including eight governors, numerous legislative leaders and countless heads of state agencies. He also represented the bishops in an official capacity before private and nonprofit organizations at both the state and national levels.

McCarron has held leadership roles on various boards, associations and commissions over the span of his professional career. He currently serves as president of the board of directors of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (2005-Present). Previous appointments include: board member, Catholic Volunteers in Florida (2009-2013), Martyrs of La Florida Missions in Tallahassee (2008-2013), and John Paul II Catholic High School, Tallahassee, (2007-2008); vice president, Florida Catholic Heritage Trail, (2003-2005); president, National Association State Catholic Conference Directors (2002-2004); chair, Governor’s Advisory Commission for Education Block Grants (1993-1994); president, Florida Association of Academic Nonpublic Schools, (1987-1989); chair, United States Catholic Conference Federal Aid Advisory Committee (1986-1988); and president, Serra Club of Tallahassee (1985-1987). McCarron is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.

Among several honors received by McCarron, is the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award (Latin: For the Church and the Pope) presented in March 2013 at the annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit held in Tallahassee. Awarded for distinguished service to the Catholic Church, this medal is the highest decoration conferred upon members of the laity by the Holy See. Additional honors include: St. Vincent de Paul Award, Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary (2013); Leonard DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award, National Catholic Education Association (2010); Hall of Fame, Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School (2010); and Distinguished Education Award, Association of Independent Schools of Florida (1993).

Prior to joining the Conference, McCarron served as director of student activities from 1978-1980 and as a mathematics teacher from 1973-1978 at Miami Killian Senior High School where he was recognized as Teacher of the Year for the 1977-1978 school-year. He also served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, active duty from 1969-1972. 

McCarron graduated with a B.S. from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama. He earned a M.S. in Human Resources, Management and Administration from St. Thomas University, Miami and achieved a Ph.D. in Educational Foundations and Policy Studies from Florida State University. His 1993 doctoral dissertation was titled Catholic Schools in Florida from 1866-1992.

McCarron and his wife Cheryl reside in Tallahassee and are parishioners of Good Shepherd Catholic Church. The McCarrons have five children, two sons and three daughters, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren.

The bishops have appointed Michael B. Sheedy, director of public policy, to the position of executive director effective January 1, 2014.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. It speaks for the Church in matters of public policy and serves as liaison to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.