Retired Bishop John McCarthy, who led the Catholic Diocese of Austin for 15 years and was known for his interreligious work and dedication to the poor, died Saturday at the age of 88, church officials announced.
He died at his home, the church said, and funeral arrangements are pending.
The themes of his tenure as bishop were that the best way to show God in the world is to help people, and to respect and work with people of all faiths. The role of the Catholic Church, McCarthy said is “not to tend to its own store” but to lessen pain and suffering, reach out to the poor, work for justice and encourage cooperation and understanding.
“He has been a shepherd who completely emptied himself for this church and others,” McCarthy’s successor, Bishop Gregory Aymond, said during McCarthy’s retirement celebration in 2001. “He has been and continues to be a sign of Christ to this diocese and … to people of all races and faiths.”
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“Under his leadership a model of parish social ministry, which he began in 1969 as a Houston pastor, spread throughout the diocese,” the diocese said on its website. “The concept is that many parishes have the resources among their own parishioners to provide much of the help needed by those within the parish boundaries.”
The diocese said he encouraged Seton Medical Center’s opening of clinics in East Austin to serve the working poor, and oversaw the expansion of the Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton, which serves the entire diocese.