Joseph Fiorenza

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Joseph Anthony Fiorenza
Archbishop Emeritus of Galveston-Houston
AppointedDecember 6, 1984
InstalledFebruary 18, 1985
Term endedFebruary 26, 2006
PredecessorJohn Louis Morkovsky
SuccessorDaniel DiNardo
OrdinationMay 29, 1954
by Wendelin Joseph Nold
ConsecrationOctober 25, 1979
by Patrick Flores, John Louis Morkovsky, and John E. McCarthy
Personal details
Born (1931-01-25) January 25, 1931 (age 87)
Beaumont, Texas
Previous postBishop of San Angelo (1979–1984)
MottoThy kingdom come
Styles of
Joseph Anthony Fiorenza
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop

Joseph Anthony Fiorenza (born January 25, 1931) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He was the seventh Bishop and the first Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, serving from 1985 to 2006. He previously served as Bishop of San Angelo from 1979 to 1984.

Early life and education[edit]

Joseph Fiorenza was born in Beaumont, Texas, the second of four sons of Anthony and Grace (née Galiano) Fiorenza.[1] His father immigrated from Sicily at age 10, while his mother was the daughter of Sicilian immigrants.[2] He attended St. Anthony High School in Beaumont, where he was football team captain and senior class president.[2] He skipped a grade and graduated from high school at age 16 in 1947.[3] He then studied at St. Mary's Seminary in La Porte.[4]


Fiorenza was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 1954.[5] His first assignment was as assistant pastor of Queen of Peace Church in Houston, where he remained for three years.[3] In 1957, he became professor of medical ethics at Sacred Heart Dominican College and chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital in Houston.[3] He served as administrator of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral from 1959 to 1967.[1] In 1965, he participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches during the Civil Rights Movement.[2]

Fiorenza served as pastor of St. Augustine Church (1967–69) and of St. Benedict the Abbot Church (1969–72), both in Houston.[1] From 1972 to 1973, he was both pastor of Assumption Church and vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston.[4] He was named Honorary Prelate of His Holiness by Pope Paul VI on December 5, 1973, and served as diocesan chancellor from 1973 to 1979.[4]


On September 4, 1979, Fiorenza was appointed the fourth Bishop of San Angelo by Pope John Paul II.[5] He received his episcopal consecration on the following October 25 from Archbishop Patrick Flores, with Bishops John Louis Morkovsky and John E. McCarthy serving as co-consecrators, at Sacred Heart Cathedral.[5]

On December 18, 1984, Fiorenza was named Bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston by Pope John Paul II. He was installed as Bishop of Galveston-Houston by Archbishop Patrick Flores in the presence of Archbishop Pio Laghi, the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio. The Diocese of Galveston-Houston was elevated to the status of Archdiocese by John Paul II on Dec. 29, 2004, at which point Fiorenza became an Archbishop.

When a wave of allegations of sexual abuse of boys and girls within the Catholic Church was widely reported from 2002, Fiorenza issued a statement proclaiming that the archdiocese would "make the protection and safety of children and young people a top priority", but it has been reported that nothing was done; internal memos from 1996—published in detail by the press—show that abuse was reported but ignored for years. In a 2006 news report Fiorenza was said to have had a tendency to accept troubled clergy into his domains; and the Galveston-Houston archdiocese acted to protect the church from public scrutiny, mounting vigorous legal defenses, blaming the victims, and obfuscating for the news media.[6]

Archbishop Fiorenza submitted his letter of retirement to the Vatican in February 2006 at the customary age of 75 years. The response was received on February 28, 2006, officially granting Fiorenza his retirement and declaring former coadjutor Archbishop Daniel DiNardo the presiding Archbishop of Galveston-Houston.[7]

Appointments and board memberships[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Curriculum Vitae". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Archived from the original on 2013-02-23.
  2. ^ a b c Holmes, Cecile S. (1998-11-14). "Strong leader, humble spirit - HOUSTON CATHOLIC BISHOP IN THE RUNNING FOR TOP DENOMINATIONAL POST". Houston Chronicle.
  3. ^ a b c "Archbishop Emeritus Fiorenza". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Archived from the original on 2013-02-23.
  4. ^ a b c Vara, Richard (2006-03-01). "'New era' for 1.3 million Catholics - Archbishop Fiorenza retires and asks region to embrace successor Daniel DiNardo". Houston Chronicle.
  5. ^ a b c "Archbishop Joseph Anthony Fiorenza".
  6. ^ Craig Malisow (August 17, 2006). "Parish Predators". Houston Press. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Texas Archbishop Resigns". KWTX-TV. February 28, 2006. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2010.

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Archdiocese created
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
Succeeded by
Daniel DiNardo
Preceded by
John Louis Morkovsky
Bishop of Galveston-Houston
Succeeded by
Diocese elevated
Preceded by
Anthony Pilla
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Succeeded by
Wilton Daniel Gregory
Preceded by
Stephen Aloysius Leven
Bishop of San Angelo
Succeeded by
Michael David Pfeifer