When Edward Matocha came to Austin in 1947, he was the only
ordained Catholic priest in the area. Over the next 60 years, he helped start
the Austin Diocese, stood in as second in command to its bishops and became, in
the eyes of other church leaders, the anchor and the history of the diocese.
Matocha, 88, died Wednesday, more than two years after a fall that he
never fully recovered from, church officials said. The monsignor had lived at
West Oaks Rehabilitation Center since February 2008.
"Ed has been here from the first day of the diocese, and it was the
center of his life until (Wednesday)," former Bishop John McCarthy said. "It's
like the walking history of our diocese has died."
Born in Cameron, Matocha was ordained in Galveston in 1945 before coming
"Matocha was the only diocesan priest for Austin," McCarthy said.
Matocha was named chancellor of the Austin Diocese about 1949 and given
the duties of witnessing signatures on important documents and acting as the
diocese's archivist, according to the diocese. About the same time, he served as
the chaplain of Seton Hospitals. He served as secretary to his friend Bishop
Louis J. Reicher and was the founding pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church on
Burnet Road in North Austin in 1952.
Bishop Vincent Harris later named him vicar general of the diocese -
basically the second in command to the bishop for executive and administrative
Christian González, director of communications for the diocese, said
Matocha was the rector at St. Mary Cathedral downtown from 1990 until his
retirement in 2000. Matocha also served as the pastor at St. Teresa's on 11th
"He is one of our priests that has been around since the diocese began,"
González said. "He is someone who everyone will recognize his name, or for sure
Monsignor Victor Goertz worked with Matocha for about eight years in the
1950s and '60s and said one of Matocha's strengths was his reliability.
"He didn't have to do anything extraordinary to be remembered," Goertz
said. "He just did the everyday things extraordinarily well."
Goertz and McCarthy described Matocha as a quiet man who was kind to
everyone and had the reputation around the diocese of having an almost
"He never forgot anyone once he met you," McCarthy said.
Goertz remembered Matocha's habit of walking from St. Mary's downtown to
the hike-and-bike trail around Lady Bird Lake.
"I would say, in a sense, just the fact that he was here, was the
definition of continuity and consistency," Goertz said.
A rosary has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at St. Mary Cathedral.
Funeral services have been set for 2 p.m. Friday at St. Mary's, followed by
burial at Assumption Cemetery