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Bishop Edward Head Dies, Remembered as Kind and Considerate Leader

Bishop Edward Head
Bishop Edward Head

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The man who was the spiritual leader of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese for 22 years has died. Bishop Edward Head passed away Tuesday at a nursing home in Kenmore at the age of 85.

Bishop Edward Head was ordained a priest in 1945. He was installed as Buffalo's 11th bishop in March 1973. In 1995, under church law, Bishop Head was forced to retire at the age of 75.

At a Mass celebrated at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Buffalo, marking his 50th anniversary as a priest, Bishop Head told local Catholics he did his best as bishop of Buffalo.

"In 1973, Pope Paul, VI, could have sent this church of Buffalo a wiser bishop, a holier bishop, a bishop more astute in administration or a bishop more gifted in public speaking. But I don't think Pope Paul could have sent the Diocese a bishop who had tried harder to serve you," Head had said.

During those 22 years as bishop, Edward Head took the lead in merging some struggling city parishes, as well as consolidation of several Catholic elementary and high schools. Pastor of St. Louis Church in downtown Buffalo, Fr. Salvatore Manganello, served as Bishop Head's Master of Ceremonies after his retirement. He noted other accomplishments Bishop Head achieved.

"He also began the formation of a new parish that was founded for the African American Catholics on the East Side," Manganello said. "He was instrumental in getting that together and moving it forward."

Bishop Head was still leading the Catholic diocese when the priest abuse scandal originally broke in the early 1990s. Manganello said at the time Head formulated a policy for the diocese that was implemented for allegations -- and in some cases those priests were not allowed return to their church. The policy was put in place long before it was implemented and adopted across the US.

Manganello says Bishop Head was a kind, considerate man who was concerned about the people.

He was the only bishop to retire as bishop of Buffalo. Funeral arrangements will be announced later Wednesday.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Eileen Buckley's interview with Fr. Manganello.