Mississippi priest, Army chaplain, music lover, bishop laid to rest

ALEXANDRIA, La – Bishop Emeritus Ronald Paul Herzog of the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, and a priest of the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, died on Friday, April 12, at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. He was born on April 22, 1942, in Akron, Ohio to Paul Herzog and Kathryn Donahue.
His father, who was Lutheran, worked for Firestone in Akron for 24 years. His mother was Catholic. As a young boy, he attended various parochial and public schools through the eighth grade. The Herzog family moved to Natchez, Mississippi in 1953, and in 1956, while Herzog was in high school, his parents moved to St. Benedict, Louisiana, where he entered St. Joseph Seminary.
After graduating from the junior college of St. Joseph Seminary, Bishop Herzog began his major seminary years at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, where he earned a bachelor degree in Philosophy, followed by four more years of Theology culminating in a Bachelor of Sacred Theology, granted in association with Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. On June 1, 1968, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson by Archbishop Luigi Raimondi, Apostolic Delegate to the United States.
His first assignment was as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church in D’Ilberville, Mississippi. Through the encouragement of the pastor of the adjoining parish who had returned to the diocese after serving as an Army chaplain, Bishop Herzog requested permission to become a chaplain in the Mississippi Army National Guard, and Bishop Joseph Brunini allowed him to join. During his nearly 30 years as a military chaplain, Chaplain Herzog served in different units in the Mississippi Army National Guard. His only active tour of duty was at Camp Shelby during Desert Shield/Desert Storm from November 1990 – January 1991. At that time he was the only Catholic chaplain in the Mississippi Guard. He retired from the Mississippi National Guard on April 21, 2002, with the state rank of Brigadier General.
Besides the National Guard, another love of Bishop Herzog’s was music. Throughout college and theology, he participated in choirs and served as head cantor. In addition to serving as a chorus member and soloist for the Gulf Coast Messiah Chorus, he directed church choirs in several parishes as well as the diocesan choir. He served as a member or the chairman of several boards of directors for community chorus groups and performing arts groups. At the time, he was one of only three Mississippians accepted through national audition as a member of the American Choral Directors Association National Community Honor Choir for the national convention in San Diego, California in March, 1977.
But his true passion was his role as a priest. He was named Domestic Prelate (Monsignor) on November 20, 1987, by Pope John Paul II. As a priest, Bishop Herzog was an associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church in D’Ilberville and associate pastor and pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Hattiesburg, and pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Joseph Church, St. Paul Church, St. Bernadette Church, Trinity Church, and Immaculate Conception Church, all in Mississippi.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Bishop Herzog was assigned many diocesan responsibilities some of which included Diocesan Director of the Office for Worship, Diocesan Tribunal Defender of the Bond, Past Chair of the Presbyteral Council, Former Dean of the Northern and Western Deaneries, College of Consulters, and Secretary-Treasurer/President Elect of the Association of Priests for the Dioceses of Biloxi and Jackson.
After spending all of his 36 years as a priest in the church parishes of Mississippi, he was named 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria on October 27, 2004, and ordained a bishop in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on January 5, 2005, by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans.
Bishop Herzog focused much of his episcopacy on seminarian education and communications.
He is survived by members of his extended family, Bette Jean Lyons, Mary Elaine Lange, Marianne Bertsch, and Rev. Dr. Bill Lyons. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Monday, April 22, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria, with Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, presiding. Fourth degree Knights of Columbus and priests of the Diocese of Alexandria served as pallbearers. Donations in memory of Bishop Herzog may be made to the Diocese of Alexandria Seminary Burse or the Priests’ Retirement Fund.

ALEXANDRIA – Priests of the Diocese of Alexandria carry the coffin containing the body of Bishop Ronald Herzog, Eleventh Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana, out of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral following an April 22 Mass of Christian Burial. Bishop Herzog was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson on June 1, 1968. He served in Diocese of Biloxi from its establishment until his appointment as Bishop of Alexandria on October 27, 2004. Bishop Herzog’s funeral fell on his 77th birthday.

(Reprinted with permission from Church Today, the newspaper for the Diocese of Alexandria.)