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Retired Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza dies at 91

Fiorenza celebrated his 90th birthday last year with a car parade at the Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Priests Retirement Residence.

HOUSTON — Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza died Monday. He was 91.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston posted on its website that Fiorenza was a "tireless social justice advocate" throughout his priesthood.

“Archbishop Fiorenza was known to be a champion of civil rights and a tireless worker in overcoming the presence of racism in our community," said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. "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.”

Fiorenza’s funeral arrangements are pending and will be communicated as they are finalized, according to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston 

The Houston Dioceses sent an email to its employees Monday saying:

"Dear Brother Priests,

"It is with deep sorrow that I inform you that after his more than 68 years as a priest and 21 years as bishop and archbishop of our Archdioceses, Archbishop Fiorenza was called home to the Lord this morning.

"Though born in Beaumont, Archbishop Fiorenza was a Houstonian through and through, as he worked tirelessly for the good of the local Church of Galveston-Houston. In these last months of his life, Archbishop Fiorenza suffered as his health began to decline."

St. Matthew the Evangelist Catholic Church posted the news of his death on Facebook:

"Rest In Peace Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza. Please pray for the repose of the Soul of our dear Archbishop Emeritus."

RELATED: 4 retired Houston priests, including Archbishop Fiorenza, test positive for COVID-19

Commissioner Rodney Ellis  also issued a statement in response to the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza:

“Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza was a voice of conscience and a man of action who lived by his faith to serve the least of these, empower the powerless, and hold the powerful accountable. From his outspoken support of misdemeanor bail reform to his fierce advocacy for civil rights, he led with a moral compass that always pointed toward justice.

"Together, with Rev. Bill Lawson and Rabbi Samuel Karff, Archbishop Fiorenza worked tirelessly across faiths to advance equality and fight injustice wherever it was found. He was a dear friend, a true civil rights leader, and a person who will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

About Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Anthony Fiorenza

Source: The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston 

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Anthony Fiorenza was born Jan. 25, 1931, in Beaumont, Texas. The son of immigrant Italian parents, he was the second of four children born to Anthony and Grace Fiorenza.

Archbishop Fiorenza graduated from St. Anthony High School in Beaumont on May 29, 1947. He began studies for the priesthood in 1947 and was ordained a priest for the then-Diocese of Galveston-Houston on May 29, 1954.

Following ordination, he served as an assistant pastor in Houston for three years, and then became the professor of medical ethics at Dominican College and chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital in Houston. From 1959 to 1967, he was the administrator of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral. He was pastor of several churches from 1967 to 1973 when he was named chancellor of Galveston-Houston.

St. Pope John Paul II named him the Bishop of San Angelo on Sept. 4, 1979, and he served in that West Texas diocese until 1985 when he was named the Bishop of Galveston-Houston, an archdiocese that has more than 1.7 million Catholics in 146 parishes across 10 counties. He became Galveston-Houston's first Archbishop on Dec. 29, 2004.

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