By TERRY DICKSON
Gulf Pine Catholic
BILOXI, Miss. — Bishop Roger Paul Morin, third bishop of Biloxi, died Oct. 31. He was 78. Bishop Morin was returning to Biloxi after vacationing with his family in Massachuestts and passed away during his flight from Boston to Atlanta.
“This is a sad day for our diocese. I was shocked to hear the news,” said Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III, bishop of Biloxi.
“Bishop Morin was a kind and gentle man who truly embodied his episcopal motto as one who walked humbly and acted justly. When I was named bishop of Biloxi in 2016, Bishop Morin was most gracious and accommodating. I am forever grateful for his support, wise counsel and, most of all, his friendship. He will be sorely missed. As we prepare to celebrate All Saints Day, we take comfort in knowing that the Communion of Saints has gained a powerful intercessor in Bishop Morin.”
Bishop Morin was installed as the third Bishop of Biloxi on April 27, 2009, at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the late Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, Metropolitan Archbishop of Mobile.
A native of Dracut, Mass., he was born on March 7, 1941, the son of Germain J. and Lillian E. Morin. After high school and college studies, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1966 from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., and continued theology studies at St. John’s for two years of graduate school. In 1967 he went to New Orleans to work in its new summer Witness program, conducted by the archdiocesan Social Apostolate.
When he returned to New Orleans in 1968, he became director of The Center, a neighborhood social service organization run by the Social Apostolate. He enrolled at Notre Dame Seminary, studying in the evenings and on Saturdays in addition to his full time position at The Center. Bishop Morin had a M.Div., Theology from Notre Dame Seminary.
He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Hannan on April 15, 1971, in his home parish of St. Therese in Dracut, Mass. His first parish assignment was at St. Henry Parish in New Orleans. In 1973, he was appointed associate director of the Social Apostolate and in 1975 became the director, responsible for the operation of nine yearround social service centers sponsored by the archdiocese. Bishop Morin held a master of science degree in urban studies from Tulane University and completed a program in 1974 as a community economic developer. He was in residence at Incarnate Word Parish beginning in 1981 and served as pastor there from 1988 through April 2002. Bishop Morin was the Founding President of Second Harvest Food Bank.
In 1978, he was a volunteer member of Mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial’s transition team dealing with federal programs and then accepted a $1 a year position as deputy special assistant to the mayor for federal programs and projects. He served the city of New Orleans until 1981, when he was appointed archdiocesan vicar for community affairs, with responsibility over nine agencies: Catholic Charities, Social Apostolate, human relations, alcoholics’ ministry, Apostleship of the Sea, cemeteries, disaster relief, hospitals and prisons. He was named a monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
One of the highlights of his priesthood came in 1987 when he directed the archdiocese’s preparations for Saint Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to New Orleans. The visit involved thousands of community volunteers and coordination among national, state and local religious and political leaders. He also coordinated the events of the bicentennial of the archdiocese in 1993. In 1995, Bishop Morin received the Weiss Brotherhood Award presented by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his service in the field of human relations.
Bishop Morin was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans on Feb. 11, 2003, and his Episcopal ordination was on April 22, 2003. He served as Vicar General and moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of New Orleans 2001-2009. Bishop Morin was named Bishop of Biloxi by Pope Benedict XVI on March 2, 2009. Bishop Morin’s episcopal motto was “Walk Humbly and Act Justly.”
A Mass of Christian Burial was scheduled for Nov. 7 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biloxi, with interment in the Bishops’ Cemetery and Memorial Prayer Garden.
By TERRY DICKSON