HOUSTON — Retired Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz of Galveston-Houston died Dec. 21. No cause of death was given.
The bishop, who was 75, was a native Houstonian and ministered in his home diocese for his entire priesthood of more than 50 years.
Funeral arrangements for Sheltz are pending.
“There is real sadness for us at the death of Bishop Sheltz,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. “He was such a kind and generous man, a faithful priest. Whenever I asked him to do anything, he always said ‘yes’ and did so cheerfully. He was a great model of a diocesan priest, conscientious. He mirrored Christ very much.”
As a priest of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Sheltz served at six parishes: Assumption, Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral, St. Vincent de Paul, Christ the Redeemer and Prince of Peace Church, all in Houston; and St. Anthony of Padua Church in The Woodlands near Houston.
He served as dean of the San Jacinto Deanery and episcopal vicar of the archdiocese’s northern vicariate while he was a parish priest. In 2000, St. John Paul II named him a prelate of honor, with the title of monsignor.
In 2007, Sheltz was named secretariat director for Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services.
Since 2010, he served as vicar general, chancellor and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese, overseeing the administrative operations of the largest Catholic diocese in Texas and the fifth largest in the United States.
On Feb. 21, 2012, he was named an auxiliary bishop of Galveston-Houston by Pope Benedict XVI.
When asked in 2012 to discuss his aspirations when serving as bishop, Sheltz said, “I hope I will continue to be a good representative of the priesthood. I hope that I will be a good preacher of the life of Jesus Christ through my life and actions. I hope I will help others continue to grow in their faith.”
Pope Francis accepted Sheltz’s resignation June 22; when he turned 75 April 20, he submitted his resignation to the pope as required by canon law.
Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro of Galveston-Houston said that hope was realized in a life dedicated to faithful service.
“Bishop George was a good man and a good and humble priest. And he was a bishop,” said Dell’Oro, named an auxiliary for the archdiocese in May and ordained a bishop in July.
“With great humility, George trusted that God had chosen him and served him faithfully even through undue suffering until his death. Now, I trust that he is in God’s peaceful embrace,” the bishop said.
George Arthur Sheltz was born April 20, 1946, in Houston to George Sheltz Sr. and Margaret Sheltz. The second oldest of three children, he was raised in Houston and educated entirely in the Bayou City, attending Annunciation Catholic School in downtown Houston, St. Thomas High School, the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary.
During high school, he began to consider the possibility of studying for the priesthood for the then-Diocese of Galveston-Houston. With the encouragement of the Basilian fathers at St. Thomas High School, he entered St. Mary’s Seminary. He graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a bachelor of arts in philosophy and from the seminary with a master’s in theology.
On May 15, 1971, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Galveston-Houston by Bishop John L. Morkovsky.
“The archdiocese lost a fully dedicated and wonderful priest in the death of Bishop Sheltz,” said retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza. “He was a friend to all who knew him and ready to help those in need of his priestly ministry, and always offered good advice to those seeking his help. I will miss him as a good and steady friend.”
Sheltz came from a family of Houston vocations. His late father was a deacon; he 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.