Bishop Schmitt Funeral Mass to be held Dec. 20

The Funeral Mass for Bishop Emeritus Mark Francis Schmitt of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette will be held on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 11 a.m. ET at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Metropolitan of the Province of Detroit, will preside.

Bishop Alexander K. Sample, current bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, and Bishop Emeritus James H. Garland will concelebrate along with the other bishops and priests who are present. Cardinal Edmund Szoka will also be in attendance.

On Monday, December 19, the body of Bishop Schmitt will be received in St. Peter Cathedral at 10 a.m. by Bishop Sample, Bishop Garland and the clergy. Bishop Schmitt’s body will lie in state in the cathedral from 10:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. A rosary will be prayed at 3 p.m., and the Vigil Prayer Service will be celebrated at 7 p.m. All times are Eastern.

On Tuesday, December 20, the bishops, priests and deacons will pray the Office for the Dead in the cathedral at 9:30 a.m., prior to the Funeral Mass at 11 a.m.

The Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus from the various assemblies of the Upper Peninsula will form an honor guard, and the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre will participate in the procession.

The Rite of Committal will be celebrated in the Cathedral Crypt immediately following the Mass. Bishop Schmitt will be interred in the crypt, which also holds the remains of six other diocesan bishops: Frederic Baraga, Ignatius Mrak, John Vertin, Frederick Eis, Francis Magner, and Thomas Noa.

It has been nearly 35 years since the funeral Mass for a bishop, Thomas Noa, was held in St. Peter Cathedral on March 17, 1977.

Bishop Schmitt died on December 14, 2011 in DePere, Wisconsin at the age of 88. Born on February 14, 1923, in Algoma, Wisconsin, Bishop Schmitt was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Green Bay on May 22, 1948. He served in several parishes and held various diocesan positions before he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay in 1970.

In March 1978, he was appointed the tenth bishop of the Diocese of Marquette and installed on May 8 of that year. He retired as bishop of Marquette on Nov. 11, 1992. He lived near Big Bay and served St. Mary Mission in that community until moving to Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2005.

Highlights of his 14 years of service to the Catholic Church in the Upper Peninsula include the establishment of the Lay Ministries Leadership School; implementation of the Permanent Diaconate Program; the ordination of 28 men to the priesthood; and the provision of faith development programs like RENEW, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the DeSales video and discussion program and the Loyola Institute for Ministry Extension Program. In addition, Bishop Schmitt was the first in the Diocese of Marquette to appoint a diocesan fiscal manager and pastoral coordinators at parishes without a resident priest.

On the national scene, Bishop Schmitt served on the Committee of Health Affairs of the United States Catholic Conference and was Episcopal Advisor of the Catholic Hospital Association and to the Diocesan Health Coordinators of the country