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    Diocese education leader retires

    By MIKE BRASSFIELD
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 15, 2002

    ST. PETERSBURG -- For the past couple of years, Monsignor Frank Mouch has been one of the leaders of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. He has been Bishop Robert N. Lynch's right-hand man, overseeing Catholic schools and youth ministries and taking charge of a number of church offices.

    That has come to an end. Mouch, 69, retired this week.

    "He's a very talented man, and we are grateful for all he has done," said Mary Jo Murphy, spokeswoman for the diocese. "He will be very much missed."

    Mouch, the diocese's secretary for pastoral programs, is not leaving with any kind of cloud over him, Lynch said. Mouch has been planning to retire for the past year. He lives in the Saddlebrook area of Pasco County, and the daily commute to the diocese headquarters in St. Petersburg became too burdensome for him.

    As a member of the bishop's senior staff, Mouch oversaw schools, youth ministries, religious education and lay pastoral ministries for the St. Petersburg diocese's 372,000 Catholics, who are in 73 parishes in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

    Mouch also headed the diocese communications office, and he spoke for the diocese on a number of issues. He was even the bishop's personal pilot.

    This is the second time Mouch has retired. In 1996, he stepped down as president of Saint Leo College in Pasco County. He had run the college for a decade, and he said at the time that he was "just a great believer that 10 years is enough."

    Saint Leo, the state's oldest Catholic college, has about 8,000 students. During Mouch's decade-long tenure, the college began offering graduate degrees.

    Before he became president of Saint Leo in February 1987, Mouch was pastor of a Catholic church in Siesta Key.

    Mouch could not be reached for comment Friday. He will continue to do some work for the diocese, offering commentary on Catholic radio programs.

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