Bishop Maurus Muldoon, OFM, missionary and Bishop Emeritus of Juticalpa, Honduras, dies

North Texas Catholic
(Jun 17, 2024) Local

(Photo courtesy/Walter Welborn)

Bishop Maurus Muldoon, OFM, Bishop Emeritus of Juticalpa, Honduras, died on June 14, 2024, at the age of 85 near his hometown of Boston.

Bishop Muldoon is remembered by many Catholics in the Diocese of Fort Worth, who came to know him through a partnership between the two dioceses formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, which devastated Central America in 1998.

Bishop Michael Olson said, “Bishop Muldoon’s pastoral leadership was imbued with the character of a missionary dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Christ. So many people in the Diocese of Fort Worth came to know him through the collaboration offered with his Diocese of Juticalpa. We pray for his soul’s repose and for the solace of his family and friends.”

Thomas Andrew Muldoon was born in Boston on August 8, 1938, son of the late Thomas and Gertrude McNamara Muldoon.

He was received into the Franciscan novitiate on August 15, 1958; made his temporary profession of vows on August 16, 1959; professed solemn vows on August 16, 1962; and was ordained a priest on June 11, 1966.

With a strong missionary zeal, Bishop Muldoon served in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras from 1966 to 1981 in Central America. In 1982, he returned to the United States, serving as Director of the Hispanic Center in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

On February 2, 1983, Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Olancho, Honduras. He was ordained a bishop on October 8, 1984, and in 1987 was named Bishop of Juticalpa, Honduras, a position he held until his retirement in 2012.

With the assistance of the Diocese of Fort Worth and others, Bishop Muldoon helped establish a Catholic hospital, a water system, more than 200 homes, a Catholic university, and Catholic schools for the residents of the mountainous villages in Honduras.

Walter Welborn, a parishioner of St. Andrew Church in Fort Worth, traveled with Bishop Muldoon in Honduras and in the U.S. “He took the mission of Jesus Christ everywhere he went,” recalled Welborn. “He would talk in schools and churches, not because he was concerned about raising money, but because he wanted to save minds and souls.”

(Photo courtesy/Walter Welborn)

Bishop Muldoon also had a quick sense of humor, according to Welborn. After the bishop had made a multi-day horseback journey to visit mountainous communities, Welborn asked him if he’d had the opportunity to shower. The bishop quipped that in crossing the river on horseback, he had washed his horse, his clothes, and himself.

Cecilia Villanueva, a parishioner of St. Stephen Church in Weatherford, helps coordinate Educate the Children – Honduras program, which operates three schools in Honduras for seventh through 11th grade students.

She said, “I was fortunate enough to work with Bishop Muldoon for a short time. I can still remember his welcoming smile and his dedication to serving the people of Honduras. He was a calm voice in the midst of challenging times as Educate the Children continued to expand. Even after his retirement, we still sought out his wisdom. He never tired of being there for us and for Honduras.”

Peter Flynn, former diocesan director of financial and administrative services, traveled to Honduras 17 times to help the mission Church in Honduras. He remembered Bishop Muldoon as a humble Franciscan missionary with a gift for enlisting the support of others.

Flynn said Bishop Muldoon’s home in Juticalpa had only cold water showers during his 25 years as prelate. “His comfort took a back seat to helping, feeding, and ministering to his flock,” said Flynn.

A great joy for the bishop was to travel to Florida and watch spring training for his beloved Boston Red Sox, which he combined with parish visits to recruit volunteers and funds, according to Flynn.

His legacy extends beyond the bricks and buildings of the Diocese of Juticalpa, but in the hearts of those he inspired to do mission work at home and abroad, sharing with others that we have salvation through Jesus Christ, added Flynn.

In his retirement, Bishop Muldoon lived at St. Christopher Friary in Boston.

Bishop Muldoon is the brother of Donald and Christine Muldoon, the late Ruth and Charles Busa, and the late Mary and Alfred Grzybinski. He is also survived by 142 nieces and nephews.

A visitation for Bishop Muldoon is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in St. Joseph Church, 154 South Franklin St. in Holbrook, Massachusetts. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 19 at 10:30 a.m. in St. Joseph Church. Services will conclude with interment in Friars Cemetery, Andover, Massachusetts.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Franciscan Mission Associates, 276 W. Lincoln Ave., Mt. Vernon, NY 10550.

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