Nold, Wendelin J. (1900–1981)

By: James F. Vanderholt

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: June 21, 2017

Wendelin Nold, fifth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Galveston-Houston, son of Wendelin Joseph and Mary Elizabeth (Charles) Nold, was born on January 18, 1900, in Bonham, Texas. He attended parochial schools in Cleburne and Fort Worth before enrolling in St. Mary's Seminary. He was the first student of this school to be sent to the North American College in Rome for graduate study in theology. There he earned a doctorate in sacred theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on April 11, 1925, in Rome. Nold returned to Dallas and lived at Sacred Heart Cathedral. In 1941 he became the founding pastor of Christ the King parish. In addition, he served in many diocesan offices, including consultor, synodal judge, synodal examiner, director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and director of Catholic Action. He was appointed papal chamberlain in 1936, domestic prelate in 1942, and prothonotary apostolic in 1946. Monsignor Nold was made coadjutor bishop of Galveston, with the right of succession, on February 25, 1948. He succeeded to the see when Bishop Christopher E. Byrne died in 1950. As bishop, Nold established forty-seven parishes and fourteen mission churches. He constructed the new St. Mary's Seminary in Houston and four high schools—three in Houston and one in Beaumont. He also built a new chancery in Houston, but it was not opened until two months after he left office. His wise fiscal policy required that the church have 50 percent of construction costs in cash before the construction of any new unit could begin. He asked and received permission in 1959 from the Holy See to change the name of the diocese from Galveston to Galveston-Houston. Sacred Heart Church in Houston was made cocathedral with St. Mary's Cathedral in Galveston. The result was that all diocesan administration was moved to Houston, where Nold had lived since his consecration. He ordered the Catholic schools to be racially integrated in September 1961. Bishop Nold had his first heart attack in 1959 and afterward suffered from kidney ailments. While hospitalized in 1963 he became blind. Bishop John L. Morkovsky from the Diocese of Amarillo was installed as apostolic administrator of the Galveston-Houston diocese on June 11, 1963. This arrangement meant that Morkovsky was the executive officer of church affairs, but Nold was still in charge of civil trusts left to the diocese. Nold fully retired on his seventy-fifth birthday. Afterward his health largely returned, though he remained blind. He died on October 1, 1981, and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Houston.

Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin. Robert C. Giles, Changing Times: The Story of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston in Commemoration of Its Founding (Houston, 1972). Houston Post, October 4, 1981. Texas Catholic, April 25, 1975, October 9, 1981. Texas Catholic Herald, April 11, 25, 1975, October 9, 1981.

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Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

James F. Vanderholt, “Nold, Wendelin J.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

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May 1, 1995
June 21, 2017

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