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home : news : obituaries February 21, 2019

Retired Philadelphia auxiliary dies; was oldest U.S. Catholic bishop

By Catholic News Service

PHILADELPHIA  -- Retired Auxiliary Bishop Martin N. Lohmuller of Philadelphia died Jan. 24 at age 97. He was the oldest living Catholic bishop in the United States.

He died at St. Joseph's Manor in Meadowbrook, which is just outside of Philadelphia, following a lengthy illness. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Bishop Lohmuller was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia June 3, 1944, by Bishop Hugh L. Lamb. He was given the title of monsignor by Pope John XXIII May 18, 1959. He was ordained a bishop by the late Cardinal John J. Krol April 2, 1970.

"I was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop Lohmuller," said Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. "Bishop Lohmuller was a man of great apostolic and personal energy. Through his many good works on behalf of the church and her people, he lived out his episcopal motto of 'Love, Fidelity, Peace' each day."

Archbishop Chaput asked the people of the Philadelphia Archdiocese to pray for Bishop Lohmuller, and he invited priests "to offer Mass for the happy repose of his soul."

"We are all grateful," said the archbishop, "for the gift of his life and his selfless service. May God grant him the gift of eternal life and give peace and consolation to all those who mourn his passing."

Martin N. Lohmuller was born to the late Martin and Mary (Doser) Lohmuller Aug. 21, 1919. He grew up in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia and attended the former St. Henry School in North Philadelphia, then heavily German in character and reflecting his national heritage.

After attending Northeast Catholic High School for two years, he enrolled at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

After priestly ordination, he earned his canon law degree at The Catholic University of America in Washington. He then was assigned to the Harrisburg Diocese, which was in need of a canon lawyer.

During his years there, he was instrumental in forming the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference in 1953 to establish ongoing dialogue between representatives of the church and elected officials in the state capital, which is Harrisburg.

Returning to Philadelphia in 1970, Bishop Lohmuller worked closely with Cardinal Krol on a number of major initiatives until the cardinal's retirement in 1988. The bishop oversaw the planning and construction of the current Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, which houses the central administrative offices of the archdiocese. Prior to its completion in 1971, administrative offices had been spread out in smaller buildings and converted homes in Philadelphia.

Bishop Lohmuller played a major role in the success of the International Eucharistic Congress hosted by the archdiocese in 1976 and the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979.

Later, Bishop Lohmuller managed the founding of St. Martha Manor, the first Catholic nursing home in Chester County. He also served as pastor of Old St. Mary and Holy Trinity parishes in Old City Philadelphia.

While he officially retired at age 75 in 1994, he maintained a busy confirmation schedule for the next decade. He spent the final years of his retirement in residence at St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish in Jam

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