Archbishop Fiorenza: A timeline of life and history

October 11, 2022

(Herald file photo)

▪ January 25, 1931
Joseph Anthony Fiorenza is born as the second of four children to Anthony and Grace Fiorenza in Beaumont

▪ May 29, 1947
Joseph Fiorenza graduates from St. Anthony High School

▪ Fall of 1947
He enters St. Mary’s Seminary in La Porte starting his priestly studies

▪ May 29, 1954
Father Joseph Fiorenza is ordained by Bishop Wendelin J. Nold as a priest for the then-Diocese of Galveston

▪ Fall of 1954
Father Fiorenza begins his pastoral ministries, later becoming a medical ethics professor and chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital

▪ July 25, 1959
Diocese of Galveston becomes the Diocese of Galveston-Houston

▪ 1959
Father Fiorenza is named administrator of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Houston

▪ March of 1965
Father Fiorenza with Father Vincent Rizzotto and Father John McCarthy drive to Selma, Alabama, joining other Catholic religious leaders in several civil rights marches with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Montgomery, Alabama

▪ 1967 to 1969
Father Fiorenza is made pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Houston

▪ July 20, 1969
Father Fiorenza witnesses the first lunar landing from Houston

▪ 1969 to 1972
Father Fiorenza is made pastor of St. Benedict the Abbot Parish in Houston

▪ 1972 to 1973
Father Fiorenza is made pastor of Assumption Parish in Houston and named vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston

▪ December 5, 1973
Father Fiorenza is named an honorary prelate of his holiness by Pope Paul VI, becoming Monsignor Fiorenza at age 42

▪ 1973
Monsignor Fiorenza is named chancellor of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, a position he would hold for six years

▪ September 4, 1979
Pope John Paul II appoints Monsignor Fiorenza as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of San Angelo in west Texas

▪ October 25, 1979
Bishop-elect Fiorenza receives his episcopal consecration from Archbishop Patrick Flores of San Antonio and co-consecrators Bishop John Morkovsky and Bishop John McCarthy of Houston at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Angelo

▪ May 29, 1984
Bishop Fiorenza marks his 40th anniversary as a priest

▪ December 6, 1984
Pope John Paul II returns Bishop Fiorenza back to Galveston-Houston when the pontiff appoints Bishop Fiorenza as the seventh Bishop of Galveston-Houston

▪ February 18, 1985
Bishop Fiorenza is installed as bishop of Galveston-Houston

▪ September 13, 1987
Bishop Fiorenza concelebrates Mass with Pope John Paul II with a crowd of 350,000 during the pope’s papal visit to the U.S., which visited San Antonio

▪ April 1988
Other Texas bishops join Bishop Fiorenza for an “ad limina” trip to visit Pope John Paul II at the Vatican

▪ February 23, 1993
Bishop Fiorenza and Rev. William Lawson receive the NAACP’s first Unity Awards for their work on behalf of the homeless and poor people of Houston

▪ October 8, 1993
Other Texas bishops join Bishop Fiorenza for another “ad limina” trip to visit Pope John Paul II at the Vatican

▪ November 14, 1995
Bishop Fiorenza elected vice president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops

▪ November 17, 1998
Bishop Fiorenza elected as president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, with Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Illinois as vice president, the first African-American priest to hold the position

▪ February 17, 1999
With a delegation of bishops, Bishop Fiorenza meets with Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana

▪ June 11, 1999
Bishop Fiorenza Park dedicated and opened near Westpark Tollway and Eldridge Parkway in west Houston

▪ January 25, 2001
Bishop Fiorenza meets with U.S. President George W. Bush with a delegation of other Catholic leaders in Maryland

▪ March 22, 2001
Bishop Fiorenza visits the White House in D.C. with other U.S. bishops

▪ November 29, 2004
Bishop Fiorenza marks the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination and the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination with a Jubilee Mass and a gala benefitting the inner-city Catholic schools

▪ December 29, 2004
The Diocese of Galveston-Houston is elevated to the status of Archdiocese, with Pope John Paul II appointing Bishop Fiorenza as the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston

▪ June 29, 2005
Archbishop Fiorenza travels to Rome to receive his pallium from Pope Benedict XVI during a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

▪ September 3, 2005
Archbishop Fiorenza meets with Hurricane Katrina evacuees during a Sunday service at the Houston Astrodome

▪ February 28, 2006
Archbishop Fiorenza’s retirement request is sent to Pope Benedict XVI at age 75 and is accepted

▪ April 2, 2008
The Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, a longtime project of Archbishop Fiorenza, is dedicated and opened

▪ September 12, 2015
The Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Priest Retirement Residence at St. Dominic Village is dedicated and opened

▪ February 25, 2018
The Catholic Extension honors Archbishop Fiorenza with the Spirit of Francis Award

▪ October 10, 2019
Archbishop Fiorenza is honored by the Catholic Mobilizing Network for his efforts to end the death penalty in the U.S.

▪ June 19, 2020
Archbishop Fiorenza co-hosts a Juneteenth civil rights discussion with Rabbi Emeritus Samuel Karff and Reverend William Lawson in coordination with Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston

▪ January 25, 2021
Archbishop Emeritus Fiorenza celebrates his 90th birthday with a drive-thru celebration at his residence

▪ September 19, 2022
Archbishop Emeritus Fiorenza dies at age 91