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Rev. Msgr. Richard J. Mahowald, PA

Deceased: 2020-11-05


Seminary Graduation Year: 1956

CSM Graduation Year: 1967


Richard James Mahowald was born Aug. 22, 1930, in Watertown. He was the second of nine children born to Benedict and Mary (Rozum) Mahowald. He was baptized Sept. 7, 1930, by then-pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Watertown, Reverend Lambert Hoch, who would go on to serve as the fifth Bishop of the Sioux Falls Diocese.

After attending grammar school at Immaculate Conception in Watertown, Monsignor attended St. Thomas Military Academy in St. Paul, MN, for high school. After high school, he entered minor seminary at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. He went on to attend major seminary at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul and later the Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Martin J. O’Connor on Dec. 17, 1955, at the North American College in Rome.

Upon his ordination, he served as an associate pastor at Holy Family Parish in Mitchell and St. Agnes Parish in Vermillion. He then was assigned to lead the Catholic Student Center at South Dakota State University, where he oversaw construction of the Pius XII Newman Center. He completed his doctoral studies in Sacred Theology from 1963-1967 at the Gregorian University in Rome. Afterward, he completed multiple assignments in Rome, including serving as Superior of the Casa Santa Maria, a house of learning, and as the founder and director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education, a formation program offered to ordained priests. He was conferred the Prelate of Honor by Pope Paul VI in 1972.

During his time overseas, Monsignor evangelized across Europe, the Holy Land and the Middle East. He was a collector of life experiences, from resting on hillsides with poets and philosophers to sitting next to Mother Teresa on an airplane. He was a collector of books, Christian artwork and friends, from restaurant owners in Beirut to artists in Rome.

Later, Monsignor returned to the Sioux Falls Diocese as pastor to St. Lawrence Parish in Milbank, St. Agnes Parish in Vermillion and Christ the King Parish in Sioux Falls. Between assignments, he served in multiple teaching and formator assignments at the University of Dallas, the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and the North American College. He retired from ministry assignments in 2006. However, he continued to offer retreats and spiritual direction. He frequently was invited to other dioceses to minister. He was especially attentive to Broom Tree Retreat Center outside Irene.

In 2005, Monsignor led a tour bus-loaded family pilgrimage, as spiritual leader and tour guide, to Rome to celebrate his 50th jubilee as a priest. He celebrated Masses for family in catacombs and historic chapels as intimately as those in family living rooms and post-wedding hotel banquet rooms.

Monsignor served as Vicar General of the Diocese during Bishop Robert Carlson’s tenure. He also was a regular contributor to the priest council and the clergy continuing education.

In recent years, during what he called “the winter” of his life, Monsignor professed his readiness for death and sense that the Lord’s will was that it would be soon. All the while, he maintained his habit of not saying goodbye at the end of conversations, so that he could continue dialogue with family and friends another day. “God love, ya!” was his own “farewell until we meet again”.

Monsignor was able to say his farewells to many of his beloved family members and brother priests during his recent illness. A pillar of his family, he celebrated his 90th birthday in August with his brothers and sisters in Sioux Falls and dozens of nieces and nephews across the country via Zoom. Followed by Pinochle.

Monsignor is survived by two sisters, Kay (Cliff) Walsh and Benita (Jim) Coughlin of Sioux Falls; two brothers, Jim (Kay) Mahowald of Watertown and Steve (Lois) Mahowald of Omaha; along with 54 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Pat (Colette and Karen) Mahowald of Watertown; and three sisters, Virginia (Jack) Gordon of Denver, Mary (Reed) Chester of Lakewood, CO, and Ruth (Pete and Ted) DeLuca/Abraham of Phoenix.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for memorials to the seminarian education fund of the Diocese of Sioux Falls or Broom Tree Retreat.