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Father Joseph Muha, Diocese of Boise priest, dies at age 89


Father Joseph Muha 50th Anniversary Photo


There will be a funeral Vigil on March 12 at the Cathedral. On March 13, Bishop Peter Christensen will preside at the Funeral Mass at the Cathedral at 11 a.m. Burial at Morris Hill Cemetery will be followed by a reception whose location is forthcoming. Everyone is welcome at any of these services.


Father Joseph Andrew Muha was born July 15, 1934, in Homestead, Pennsylvania, to Andrew F. Muha and Susan C. Muha (née Yamnicky). His grandparents were immigrants from the present-day Republic of Slovakia. He and his three brothers were raised in Homestead, a steel-producing city. Father Muha was baptized at St. Michael the Archangel Parish on July 29, 1934. He and his brothers attended St. Michael’s Parish and School, where they completed first through eighth grades.


Their mother died in 1944 when Father Muha was 9. He told the Idaho Catholic Register in an interview in 2018 that her death drew him closer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout his life, he said, Mary was a source of enlightenment and strength. He found hope in her openness to God.


He received his First Communion on May 22, 1945. He joined the Boy Scouts when he was in the eighth grade.


Father Muha entered the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio, at 14 and remained there for high school, college, and four years of theology. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on June 3, 1949, from Amleto Giovanni Cardinal Cicognani, then Archbishop and Apostolic Delegate from the Holy See to the Catholics of the United States.


He was ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 1960, by the Apostolic Delegate, Egidio Cardinal Vagnozzi, in St. Thuribius Chapel at the Josephinum, along with all his classmates. The following day, Sunday, May 22, he celebrated his First Solemn Mass in his home parish of St. Michael’s with his family and friends.


Four years earlier, Father Muha requested to be assigned to the Diocese of Boise, though he had never been west. Three weeks after ordination, he left his family home to begin his drive to Boise, arriving on June 18 to spend the summer at St. John’s Cathedral. Forty-four years later, he retired from active ministry on July 1, 2004, and moved to Boise, where he continued to celebrate Mass, assist in parishes as requested, and help with communal Reconciliation services.


Over the years, Father Muha served with the Boise Catholic Engaged Encounter community as the religious presenter on weekend retreats for marriage preparation of engaged couples. He also assisted in many Catholic Cursillos and Marriage Encounter Weekends. He worked on the Diocesan Judicial Tribunal and Diocesan Liturgical Commission in the 1970s. He served as dean of the Western Deanery while he was pastor of the Weiser Catholic Community. Several times, he filled terms on the Diocesan Personnel Board and as a Diocesan Consultor to the Bishop of Boise. He also served on the Priestly Life and Ministry Committee and the Priest Retirement Committee.


While associate pastor at Sacred Heart, Boise, in the 1960s, Father Muha taught religion classes at St. Theresa’s Academy in its final year and at Bishop Kelly High School during its first three years.


Father Muha visited all seven continents and seventy-six countries. Since his retirement at age 70, he served as a Catholic chaplain on over thirty-three cruises, going to South and North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Antarctica.


His assignments included Holy Rosary, Idaho Falls; Sacred Heart, Boise; Assumption, Ferdinand; St. Mary’s, Soda Springs (with missions in Montpelier, Preston, Lava Hot Springs and Malad); St. Theresa’s, Burley; St. Anthony’s, Pocatello; San Juan Bautista in Cali, Colombia; St. Agnes’, Weiser (with mission at Cambridge); St. Mary’s, Cottonwood and Holy Cross, Keuterville, including Sunday Masses at St. Gertrude’s Monastery. Father Muha returned to Pocatello and Chubbuck again for his last assignment, overseeing the process that combined St. Joseph’s, St. Anthony’s and St. Paul’s parishes into Holy Spirit Catholic Community.


There will be a funeral Vigil on March 12 at the Cathedral. On March 13, Bishop Peter Christensen will preside at the Funeral Mass at the Cathedral at 11 a.m. Burial at Morris Hill Cemetery will be followed by a reception whose location is forthcoming. Everyone is welcome at any of these services. Remembrances may be left at AccentFuneral.com.


In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Father Muha’s name to the Clergy Retirement Fund, Diocese of Boise, or the Pontifical College Josephinum, 7625 N. High St. Columbus, OH 43235.

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Diocesan Pastoral Center

FAX: (208) 342-0224

1501 S. FEDERAL WAY, SUITE 400, BOISE, ID 83705

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