Bishop Matthiesen, retired head of Amarillo Diocese, dead at 88

By Catholic News Service

AMARILLO, Texas (CNS) — Retired Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen of Amarillo, a longtime Catholic newspaper editor and well-known social justice advocate, died after a brief illness March 22 at his home in Amarillo. He was 88.

Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo was to celebrate his funeral Mass March 27 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Amarillo, with burial to follow in a family cemetery plot at St. Boniface Church in Olfen, south of Abilene.

During his 17 years as bishop of Amarillo, Bishop Matthiesen was outspoken on a wide range of social justice issues, including the death penalty, nuclear disarmament, conscientious objection, racial justice, the neutron bomb and just war. He received the Ketteler Award for Social Justice in 2002 and Pax Christi USA’s Teacher of Peace Award in 2009.

"We have lost one of the great voices in the movement to rid the world of nuclear weapons," said Dave Robinson, executive director of Pax Christi USA, in a March 24 statement. "He was a great man, rooted in the belief that it was the responsibility of people of faith and conscience to change the world in which we live."

Ordained for the Amarillo Diocese on March 10, 1946, he was sent soon after to study at the Register College of Journalism in Denver, where he earned a master’s degree and later a doctorate in journalism.

On his return to Amarillo, he was named editor of the Texas Panhandle edition of the Register system of newspapers (now The West Texas Catholic) and assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral. He began writing a column, "Wise and Otherwise," in the paper in 1952 and continued it until 1998.

Bishop Matthiesen retired as bishop of Amarillo in 1997.

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