Bishop Joseph Vath

St. Rita Pastorate a Stepping Stone

The pastorate of St. Rita Church was an important milestone for Monsignor Joseph Vath on his way to becoming Auxiliary Bishop of Mobile, and later the first Bishop of the Birmingham Diocese in 1966.

Fr. Vath, a native of New Orleans and one of thirteen children, won his exalted position through extended service in the New Orleans Archdiocese. A son of Joseph Alphonse Vath and Florence Mary Dunn, Fr. Vath attended St. Matthias and Our Lourdes Elementary Schools and Jesuit High School, entering St. Joseph Seminary at St. Benedict in 1934.

After completing studies at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, he was ordained in 1941. Successively, he served at St. Michael, St. Agnes, and Incarnate Word churches, then as chaplain at the United States Public Service Hospital at Caravelle and temporarily at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Kenner.

Also, he served two years as assistant pastor at Ascension Church in Donaldsonville. He was pastor of St. Rita from July 1963 until March 1966.

Fr. Vath was named Papal Chamberlain in 1954 and elevated to Domestic Prelate in 1958. From 1952 until 1962, he was Vice-Officialis and Delegate of the Ordinary for administrative cases in the archdiocese.

Fr. Vath's varied service, which included being vice-chancellor of the archdiocese, brought him this accolade from an associate: "A noted scholar, richly endowed with talents for pastoral and curial administration, who served loyally under three archbishops -- Rummel, Cody, and Hannan."

Bishop Vath died on july 14, 1987.