Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze, D.D. (FIRST BISHOP OF BILOXI)
, born August 30, 1923, in Daphne, Alabama, was the first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi. He was born Lawson Howze and took the name Joseph when he converted to Catholicism in 1948.
He received his B.A. degree from Alabama State University, in 1948. After religious training at Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University, in New York, Howze was ordained a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1959.
He was named an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, Mississippi, on November 14, 1972, and was installed on January 28, 1973. When the Diocese of Biloxi was created in 1977, Howze was appointed as its first bishop. He was the first African American bishop in the 20th century to head a diocese in the United States. Bishop Howze retired June 6, 2001.
Bishop Thomas J. Rodi (SECOND BISHOP OF BILOXI)
, a native of New Orleans, graduated from De La Salle High School in 1967 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in 1971. He returned to New Orleans where he earned a law degree from the Tulane University Law School in 1974, and then entered Notre Dame Seminary, where he received a master of divinity degree in 1978.
Bishop Rodi was ordained to the priesthood on May 20, 1978, and served as associate pastor at St. Ann and St. Christopher the Martyr parishes, in Metairie, and at St. Agnes in Jefferson.
In 1983 he was appointed judge for the Metropolitan Tribunal, which handles marriage cases. He earned a licentiate in canon law from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1986, and served as professor of canon law at Notre Dame Seminary from 1986 to 1995.
Bishop Rodi served as director of the Office of Religious Education from 1988 to 1989, and as executive director of the Department of Pastoral Services from 1989 to 1996.
In addition to his other duties, Bishop Rodi was named Archdiocesan Chancellor in 1992, and in 1996, he was named Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.
In 1992, he was named a prelate of honor (a monsignor) by Pope John Paul II.
Bishop Rodi also served as administrator of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in River Ridge, ministered in Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Pius X parishes in New Orleans, and was pastor of St. Rita Church, in New Orleans.
He was ordained a bishop and installed as Bishop of Biloxi on July 2, 2001.
Bishop Rodi was appointed Archbishop of Mobile by Pope Benedict XVI on April 2, 2008, and was installed on June 6, 2008.