Jump to content

John Joseph Fitzpatrick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Fitzpatrick
Bishop of Brownsville
titular bishop of Cenae
ChurchCatholic Church
SeeDiocese of Brownsville
In office1971–1991
PredecessorBishop Humberto Medeiros
SuccessorBishop Enrique San Pedro
OrdinationDecember 13, 1942
by John Aloysius Duffy
ConsecrationAugust 28, 1968
by Coleman Carroll
Personal details
BornOctober 12, 1918
DiedJuly 15, 2006(2006-07-15) (aged 87)
Brownsville, Texas, US
Previous post(s)Auxiliary Bishop of Miami
1968 to 1971

John Joseph Fitzpatrick (October 12, 1918 – July 15, 2006) was a Canadian-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami in Florida from 1968 to 1971 and as the third bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville in Texas from 1971 to 1991.

Fitzpatrick was described as a strong advocate for the poor and for refugees.[1]


Early life[edit]

John Fitzpatrick was born in Trenton, Ontario, Canada on October 12, 1918.[2] When he was age five, his family moved to Buffalo, New York. He attended Catholic schools throughout high school. He went to Rome to study for the priesthood, but was forced to return to the United States due to its entry into World War II.[3]After the war, Fitzpatrick returned to Rome to complete his studies.[3]


Fitzpatrick was ordained a priest by Bishop John Aloysius Duffy for the Diocese of Buffalo on December 13, 1942, when he was 24 years old. [2] After his ordination, he went to Florida to serve as a military chaplain. He was incardinated, or transferred, in 1948 to the Diocese of St Augustine in Florida, then in 1958 was incardinated again, this time to the Archdiocese of Miami.[2][3]

Auxiliary Bishop of Miami[edit]

Fitzpatrick was appointed by Pope Paul VI as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami and titular bishop of Cenae on June 24, 1968.[2] On August 28, 1968, he was consecrated a bishop by Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll; his co-consecrators were Bishop Joseph Durick and Archbishop Joseph Bernardin.[2]

Bishop of Brownsville[edit]

On April 27, 1971, Fitzpatrick was appointed by Paul VI as the third bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville. He was installed on May 27, 1971.[2] In 1982, Fitzpatrick opened Casa Oscar Romero in Brownsville, named after the murdered Salvadorian archbishop, Oscar Arnulfo Romero. It served as a shelter for refugees coming across the Mexican border into the United States. He eventually closed the shelter after repeated complaints from federal judges that he was violating US immigration law.[3] Fitzpatrick set up a different shelter and even opened his own garage to refugees.[3]

As bishop, he set up an extensive program to train lay people to assume roles within the diocese.[3] He also established diocese radio and TV stations.[4]

Retirement and legacy[edit]

On November 30, 1991, Pope John Paul II accepted Fitzpatrick's resignation as bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville.[2] After the death of his replacement, Bishop Enrique San Pedro, in 1994, Fitzpatrick served as apostolic administrator for nearly a year until the appointment of Bishop Raymundo Peña in 1995. In May 1994, Fitzpatrick testified in court on behalf of Stacey Lynn Merkt, a Catholic lay worker accused of illegally bringing two Salvadoran refugees into the United States. He said that aiding refugees was in accordance with the laws of man and of God[5]

John Fitzpatrick died in Brownsville on July 15, 2006, at age 87.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff, Texas Observer (2006-07-28). "The Backpage". The Texas Observer. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bishop John Joseph Fitzpatrick [Catholic-Hierarchy]". www.catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Staff, T. B. B. (2018-11-15). "ANECDOTE: "I feed them, and I clothe them and give them temporary help... I think that's American." – Bishop John J. Fitzpatrick". Texas Border Business. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  4. ^ "Longtime Brownsville bishop dies at 87". Plainview Herald. 2006-07-16. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  5. ^ "Bishop John Joseph Fitzpatrick testified today that church aid..." UPI. Retrieved 2022-08-23.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Brownsville
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Miami
Succeeded by