WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz of Galveston-Houston, who is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope.
Bishop Sheltz was named an auxiliary bishop for the in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Since 2010, he has served as vicar general, chancellor and moderator of the curia.
Born and raised in Houston, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 for what was the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. In 2004, St. John Paul II elevated the diocese to an archdiocese.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, announced the resignation June 22 in Washington.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Bishop Sheltz for his more than 50 years serving the archdiocese as a priest and bishop,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in a statement on the retirement of “our beloved auxiliary.”
“I am grateful for his friendship, counsel, and boundless commitment to the local faithful; his knowledge and love of his home diocese has always been evident in his words and actions,” the cardinal said. “In addition, his calm, insightful manner, and dry sense of humor was invaluable in overseeing the administrative operations of the archdiocese as chancellor.”
He said Bishop Sheltz will continue to temporarily serve as chancellor and moderator of the curia.
“Please join me in thanking Bishop Sheltz for his remarkable service to this local church,” Cardinal DiNardo added. “We will continue to pray for him as we wish him a healthy, restful and rewarding retirement.”
A priest for 50 years, Bishop Sheltz’s story in faith began in a family of men and women deeply committed to the church.
His late father, Deacon George Sheltz Sr., was in the first class of permanent deacons ordained for the diocese in 1972. His late brother, Anton Sheltz, was ordained a priest for the then-Diocese of Galveston-Houston in 1976. His uncle, Msgr. Anton Frank, was the first native Houstonian ordained for the diocese in 1933.
His maternal grandmother and Margaret Sheltz, his mother, both now deceased, and his sister Mary Margaret Keen also were profoundly devoted to the faith.
“They taught me by their example what it means to be a Catholic, what it means to be a Christian and even what it means to be a priest. They taught me you’re not in it for yourself. You’re in it to share your blessings and your gifts,” Bishop-designate Sheltz said during a vespers service on the eve of his May 2, 2012, episcopal ordination.
During his priesthood, Bishop Sheltz served at Assumption, Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral and St. Vincent de Paul churches. He was the founding pastor of Christ the Redeemer and served as pastor at both Prince of Peace and St. Anthony of Padua parishes, all within the archdiocese.
In June 2019, the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese received an allegation of abuse made against Bishop Sheltz and referred it to the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, which in turn referred it to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In an Oct. 10, 2019, statement, the archdiocese announced that the doctrinal congregation said the claim was “manifestly unfounded.”
“The Congregation for Bishops has notified us and this brings the matter to a close and Bishop Sheltz is restored to full public ministry,” the archdiocese said. “We are very grateful Bishop Sheltz is resuming his normal ministry activities effective immediately.”
Bishop Sheltz is only the seventh auxiliary bishop to be ordained in the oldest and largest diocese in Texas. He assisted Cardinal DiNardo in shepherding more than 1.2 million Catholics across 10 counties, 146 parishes and 59 schools.
A Jan. 19, 2021, tribute to the bishop on the website of his alma mater, Basilian-run St. Thomas High School, said the future bishop left the school “armed with a superb education, a vibrant and robust appetite for intellectual life, and a serious, undeterred faith.”
The tribute was occasioned by Bishop Sheltz’s induction into the school’s Hall of Honor for “having achieved a sublime level of devotion,” it said. “His dedication has brought inspiration to so many of those around him, a genuine model for the divine life. One that is joyful, intentional and fulfilled — a galvanizing presence for Houston’s Catholic community.”
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