El Paso Catholics were saddened to hear of the death of Monsignor Francis J. Smith on Friday. The 85 year old priest was the leader of several El Paso parishes during his almost 50-year career in El Paso.

Msgr. Smith was ordained in 1967, and incardinated into the El Paso Diocese of El Paso. He served at St. Joseph Parish as an associate priest, and was a pastor at All Saints Parish and St. Pius X Parish. While he was at St. Pius X, he received the honorary title of Monsignor.

Most El Paso Catholics will likely remember and cherish the time he spent as the head of St. Raphael's parish on the city's eastside. He spent 29 years spent as not only the head of the parish, but as the head of the parochial school at St. Raphael. I remember well the years I spent at St. Raphael's as a child listening to Fr. Smith say Mass. He was an amazing priest and such a fantastic orator. He will be sorely missed. Msgr. Smith retired from St. Raphael Parish in 2015. We were so lucky to have such a learned and engaging priest for so many decades in El Paso.

The Diocese released a statement on the death of Msgr. Smith saying, “Our prayers are with the soul of Msgr. Smith. He was a pillar in the church of El Paso and served our Diocese with faith and love."

Funeral services for Msgr. Smith will be held Wednesday, January 29, at St. Raphael at 2301 Zanzibar Road. Viewing services will begin at 1 p.m. There will be a rosary said at 7 p.m.

Msgr. Smith's funeral mass will be celebrated on Thursday, January 30 at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 1118 N. Mesa Street. Interment will be held at Mt. Carmel Cemetery.