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Obituary | Bishop Morgan A. Casey

Bishop Morgan Casey dies; served in Bolivian missions for decades

Bp. Casey
Bishop Morgan A. Casey, who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and served in the Bolivian missions for nearly 50 years, died July 27. He was 87 years old. 

Visitation for Bishop Casey will take place at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 2618 Brentwood Blvd. in Brentwood, Friday, Aug. 5, from 6-9 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 a.m. until the funeral Mass at 11 a.m.
Morgan A. Casey was born in Portageville, Missouri, on June 23, 1935 to Anthony and Margaret (Pinkley) Casey. He grew up in Potosi and attended St. Louis Preparatory Seminary, Cardinal Glennon College and Kenrick Seminary. Cardinal Joseph Ritter ordained him to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis on April 7, 1962, at the Saint Louis Cathedral.

Following ordination, Bishop Casey served three years as assistant pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brentwood. In 1965, he accepted an assignment to the archdiocesan missions in Bolivia.

In 1983, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of La Paz and his episcopal ordination took place on Jan. 28, 1984, in Viacha, Bolivia. He was known by the people there as “Bishop Luis.” He became the second St. Louis priest to be chosen for the episcopacy in Bolivia, following Bishop Andrew B. Schierhoff, one of the three priests sent initially to Bolivia in 1956 as part of an archdiocesan-sponsored mission.

As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Casey was vicar for one of three zones in the La Paz Archdiocese. He served as episcopal moderator of the Catholic daily newspaper, La Presencia, and continued to work with the major seminary that he and other St. Louis priests founded to train Aymaran Indian youths for the priesthood. During his priestly ministry in Viacha, he was responsible for the opening a 40-bed community hospital.

Besides affirming the work of religious sisters and priests ministering in the area — including the Maryknollers and Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon — Bishop Casey said he wanted to “work for a pastoral plan in which all of us are going in the same direction and working toward the same end.”

In 1988, Bishop Casey was appointed head of the Vicariate of the Pando, moving from La Paz into the warm, tropical jungles of Riberalta, a mission territory in northwestern Bolivia at the headwaters of the Amazon basin. He served in that area until his retirement in 2013, returning to St. Louis. He most recently had resided at Mother of Good Counsel Home.

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke once wrote that from the time he entered the missions, Bishop Casey has served “with the zeal of St. Paul. Our archdiocese has a strong bond with Bishop Casey. It is a great honor for the archdiocese to have a native son serving as a successor to the apostles in the missions.”

Parishioners at St. Mary Magdalen in Brentwood kept strong ties to Bishop Casey, remembering him from his work with the CYC there, and faithfully supported his mission work.

Several times a year, Bishop Casey would journey into the jungle aboard a small boat to bring the sacraments and Jesus’ message of hope and love to the people. In a 2019 interview on the Synod of Bishops of the Amazon, Bishop Casey spoke of the difficulty of providing sacraments to the people of the vast region of South America with so few priests. “There were communities that we got to once a year, and it just took great effort to get to them,” he said. “Just to be able to have someone there to make the Eucharist available would be a tremendous boon to a Christian community.”

Bishop Casey also said that the Amazon region is “being exploited irrationally through the mining industry, through clearing land for grazing, soybeans and timber. Fires that were started, for example, in Bolivia now were started because people were clearing land and they got it out of control. That’s why a huge swatch of the Amazon forest in Bolivia was completely destroyed.”

Bishop Casey emphasized that “we need to be more aware of the fact that this is our common home, this is our world, and we’ve got to take care of it.”

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