Alumni Association of The Pontifical North American College

Raphael Fliss

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CSM 1965


BISHOP EMERITUS RAPHAEL MICHAEL GABRIEL FLISS, 84 years of age, passed away Monday, September 21, 2015, at St. Luke’s Hospital Inpatient Unit, Duluth, MN.

 The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 12:00 p.m., Thursday, October 1, 2015, at the Cathedral of Christ the King, 1410 Baxter Avenue, on the corner of Belknap and Grand Avenue, Superior, Wisconsin.

 The wake for BISHOP Fuss will begin with Reception of his Body at 3:00 p.m. on  Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at the Cathedral of Christ the King followed by  visitation, and evening prayer beginning at 7:00 p.m.

 Visitation continues beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday. October 1,2015, prior to the Mass of Christian Burial.

 Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery, Superior, immediately following the Mass of  Christian Burial.

 BISHOP FLISS was born in Milwaukee on October 25, 1930, to Paul P. Fliss and Valeria Kosobuck and was one of four sons.

 His parents followed the European custom of giving your child the name of the saint whose feast day was on or nearest the birthdate. St. Raphael’s feast day is October 24 the day before BISHOP FLISS’ birthdate and his second name Michael just seemed to be the obvious name. When he was confirmed, researching and picking a saint’s name was tradition. Adding the name of the other Archangel Gabriel was pretty much automatic.

 His father, Paul, started a business - manufacturing eye glasses - in his garage. Along with BISHOP FLISS, Paul’s sons - Arthur, George, Howard - assisted with the business by delivering the eye glasses to the customers and returning home with the payment.

 His father, Paul, passed away three months before his ordination.

 His mother, Valeria, age 80 at the time of his ordination, was unable to attend his ordination due to illness, but listened to it.

  BISHOP FLISS attended grades one through three at St. Hedwig Elementary School, and when the family moved, he attended St. Elizabeth School for grades four through eight. Following his freshman year of high school at St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary, he transferred to St. Francis Minor Seminary, Milwaukee, through the completion of his bachelor’s degree in 1952 and attended St. Francis Major Seminary, Milwaukee, for the next two years. Following his ordination in 1956, he completed graduate work in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., receiving a licentiate degree in Sacred Theology.



In 1962, BISHOP FLISS studied in Rome at the Lateran University and received a doctorate in Canon Law. Pope John XXIII died in 1963 during the time BISHOP FLISS was in Rome, attending classes. Instead of studying for an important exam, he attended the visitation of Pope John XXIII and kissed the tips of his shoes. It was reported that even though he didn’t study as much as he should have, BISHOP FLISS did pretty well on the exam.

 BISHOP FLISS was ordained to the Sacred Order of the Priesthood on May 26, 1956, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee, WI, by Archbishop Albert G. Meyer. He celebrated his first Mass at Christ the King Church, Wauwatosa, (his home parish). Because the church was under construction and not completed, Mass was held in the basement of the parish, which according to BISHOP FLISS, ‘was a very homey and humble surrounding’.

 BISHOP FLISS’ first assignment was as assistant pastor for his home parish of Christ the King, Wauwatosa. Within the next year, he was the assistant pastor for the Cathedral of St. John, Milwaukee, and also became the secretary and master of ceremonies and continued in that role for the next two archbishops. In 1962, he was sent to Rome to continue his studies, where he received his doctorate in Canon Law.

 Upon his return, he was appointed the Notary in the Curia and Defender of the Bond. In 1969, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor, besides his positions of Secretary and Master of Ceremonies to the Archbishop. BISHOP FLISS was appointed rector of the Cathedral of St. John in 1978.

On November 6, 1979, his appointment as Coadjutor Bishop with the right of succession brought him to the Diocese of Superior to work alongside Bishop George Hammes. Following the ordination rite at his ordination liturgy, he addressed the faithful saying, “I see new horizons and possibilities for the people here I have come to serve. This day I offer myself to you. I will be pleased to learn and listen. I look to you to help me be a good and dedicated bishop and together may we always see the goodness of the Lord.”

When Bishop Hammes retired in 1985, BISHOP FLISS became the 9th Bishop of the Diocese of Superior on June 27, 1985. During his tenure as Bishop, highlights and other notable happenings include: chairing the newly established Permanent Diaconate Program,  actively participating in the work of Catholic Charities Bureau,supporting the teachings of Vatican II, promoting vocations and lay ministries including appointing lay people,       permanent deacons and women religious in leadership positions,  introducing a new stewardship program, founding the Diocesan Finance Council, clustering of parishes due to lack of priests, ordaining 24 priests and 63 permanent deacons, and implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

BISHOP FLISS was also appointed Co-Chair of LARCUM (Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Methodist Commission in WI & Upper MI) and was the State Chaplain of the Catholic Daughters of America.

BISHOP FLISS was preceded in death by his parents, his brother George and his wife Winnie, his brother Howard and his wife Doris. He is survived by his brother Art (Marilyn) and eleven nieces and nephews, along with many friends throughout the country.

Prayers for BISHOP FLISS and his family are greatly appreciated.



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