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Pioneering Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Dead at 91


A beloved Houston figure of faith Joseph Fiorenza passed away at the age of 91. Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza died Monday, September 19, 2022.

The sad news was revealed by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “Archbishop Fiorenza was known to be a champion of civil rights and a tireless worker in overcoming the presence of racism in our community,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston said in a statement.

“He was also known as a great promoter of genuine renewal in the church, and in making the teachings of the Second Vatican Council known.”

Joseph Fiorenza Dead at 91.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 1954. Fiorenza’s first assignment was as assistant pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in Houston.

In 1957, he became a professor of medical ethics at Sacred Heart Dominican College and chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital, in Houston.

From 1959 to 1967, Fiorenza served as administrator of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Houston. He participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement.

Joseph worked as pastor of St. Augustine Parish and of St. Benedict the Abbot Parish, both in Houston. He was pastor of Assumption Parish in Houston and vice-chancellor of the diocese from 1972 to 1973.

On December 5, 1973, Fiorenza was named honorary prelate of his holiness by Pope Paul VI and served as diocesan chancellor from 1973 to 1979.

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Joseph Fiorenza Passed Away at 91

Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Joseph Fiorenza passed away on September 19, 2022. May he rest in peace.

On September 4, 1979, Joseph was appointed the 4th bishop of the Diocese of San Angelo by Pope John Paul II. Fiorenza received his episcopal consecration from Archbishop Patrick Flores on October 25, 1979, with Bishops John E. McCarthy and John Morkovsky serving as co-consecrators, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Angelo.

On December 18, 1984, Joseph was named bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. On June 11, 2001, he expressed his deep regret at the execution of Timothy McVeigh, a terrorist convicted of killing 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Died.

Fiorenza stated: “In an age where respect for life is threatened in so many ways, we believe it is important to emphasize that human life is a gift from God, and no one or any government should presume to kill God’s gift.”

He submitted his letter of retirement as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to Pope Benedict XVI at the mandatory retirement at the age of 75.

The pope accepted Fiorenza’s resignation in 2006 and appointed coadjutor archbishop Daniel DiNardo as Fiorenza’s successor.

He had been living in retirement at the Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Priest Retirement Residence. The Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Park in Harris County, Texas, is named after him.

Rebecca Torrellas, managing editor of the Texas Catholic Herald said: “It’s been an honor and a privilege to work for such a godly man who always fought for the rights of the poor, marginalized, immigrants, and those otherwise prejudiced against.”

“He prioritized social justice beyond his retirement with passion and determination. What an absolutely amazing legacy, and such a giant loss to the city of Houston. I will miss him terribly.”

As of press time, funeral arrangements were still pending. The archdiocese said it would release details once they are finalized.

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