Obituary: Bishop Maurus Muldoon, OFM, missionary in Central America

A proud son of St. Ann Parish, Dorchester, Bishop Maurus Muldoon, OFM, died at St. Patrick Manor in Framingham on June 14, 2024.

A son of the late Thomas and Gertrude (McNamara) Muldoon, he had three siblings: his surviving brother, Donald, and his late sisters, Ruth Busa and Mary Gryzbinski. He attended St. Ann School for grammar school and trekked to the North End of Boston for secondary school at Christopher Columbus High School, where he met the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception Province.

After graduation, he entered the Franciscan formation program and was ordained a priest at the seminary in Wappingers Falls, New York, on June 11, 1966. Between 1966 and 1981, he was assigned to various provincial missions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

In 1982, he was named director of the Hispanic Center in New Bedford. Pope St. John Paul II named him the Prelate of the Territorial Prelature of the Immaculate Conception in Olancho, Honduras. The prelature had been entrusted to his Franciscan Province from its founding.

Eighteen months later, on July 24, 1984, the same pope named him "Bishop Prelate" of the Prelature. The Holy See adopted a new policy regarding the government of structures "on their way" to becoming dioceses and named the leaders of those "baby dioceses" (as one bishop once called them) bishops.

The bishop-elect returned to the archdiocese for his episcopal ordination, which was celebrated at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Oct. 8, 1984. Archbishop Bernard F. Law was the principal ordaining bishop, with fellow Franciscan Bishop Lawrence M. Graziano, OFM, and Fall River's Bishop Daniel A. Cronin as the principal co-ordaining bishops. Bishop Muldoon was the first of 11 bishops who would eventually be ordained by Cardinal Law.

Following episcopal ordination, Bishop Muldoon returned to his prelature. On Oct. 31, 1987, Pope St. John Paul II made the prelature a diocese, giving it the new name Juticalpa. Bishop Muldoon was named the first diocesan bishop.

The bishop was a frequent visitor to the archdiocese. Cardinal Law preferred to have bishops celebrate confirmations, so he invited bishops, usually from missionary dioceses, to the archdiocese each spring to cover those confirmation Masses, which he and his six auxiliaries could not. At one point, there were six such bishops, including Bishop Muldoon and a young bishop from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bishop Seán P. O'Malley. Wags noted a baker's dozen to cover all the Masses. It also served the purpose of reminding priests and parishioners of the church beyond the archdiocese's own borders.

The bishop returned at other times as well, especially for family celebrations such as the marriages of nieces and nephews and the baptisms of their children. His official obituary notes "142 nieces and nephews," including nieces and nephews, grand- and great-grand ones as well!

He resigned the pastoral governance of his diocese in early 2012 and returned to live in the archdiocese at St. Christopher Friary in Boston's North End, the very place where he had attended high school. For several years, he continued to be available to celebrate confirmations here in the archdiocese. As the years continued and inevitably slowed him down, he could no longer be available.

Priests and people who met him were greeted with a ready smile and kind words. He was an avid fan of Boston's sports teams and followed the local Boston scene from Central America. Of course, with over 100 on-scene reporters in the family, he may have been the best informed of the clan.

Recently, he needed additional medical and daily care and was living at St. Patrick Manor in Framingham.

Bishop Muldoon's funeral Mass was celebrated on June 19, 2024, at St. Joseph Church in Holbrook, the parish where many of his family have lived after moving from Dorchester.

Following the funeral Mass, he was buried in the Franciscan Friars Cemetery in Andover.