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Fr. Maury Riney is seen in this undated photograph. COURTESY OF ARCHIVES

Fr. Maury Riney, 71, was ‘a good, gifted person’ and ‘many people loved him’


Fr. Maury Riney, a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro, passed away on Sept. 16, 2022 at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, following 45 years of dedicated priestly service. He was 71.  

Born in Owensboro on March 18, 1951, Fr. Riney studied for the priesthood at St. Mary Seminary in St. Mary, Ky., and at Saint Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Ind. He was ordained by Bishop Henry J. Soenneker at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro on May 7, 1977.

Fr. Riney served in many parishes across the diocese, including St. Stephen Cathedral, Immaculate Parish in Owensboro, St. Michael Parish in Sebree, St. Paul Parish in Grayson County, St. Elizabeth Parish in Clarkson, St. Rose Parish in Cloverport, St. Sebastian Parish in Calhoun, St. Charles Parish in Livermore, St. Mary of the Woods Parish in Whitesville, St. Pius X Parish in Owensboro, St. Martin Parish in Rome and Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Henderson, where he resided until he moved to the Carmel Home in Owensboro.

Fr. Riney had a deep compassion for the sick and suffering. He served for a period of time as a chaplain at the Carmel Home and in pastoral care ministry at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.

“Fr. Maury didn’t know a stranger,” said Shannon Long, the parish nurse at Holy Name. She said that as Fr. Riney’s own health declined, and she accompanied him to doctor’s appointments, he never failed to greet everyone he encountered – many of them being people he knew.

“He would always ask how they were doing and how were their families,” she said. “No matter how badly he was feeling, he would ask about others. He was always loving, always caring.”

Fr. Riney often celebrated Mass at parishes around western Kentucky when a pastor was unavailable. He “took pride” in being a regular substitute across the diocese, which is how he came to know so many people, said Long.

In the 1980s, Fr. Riney worked in the diocese’s communications department with now-retired Western Kentucky Catholic editor, Mel Howard, and contributed to writing and photography.

Howard said Fr. Riney loved good food and spending time with people, especially at lunchtime.

“He introduced me to Little T’s Diner down on Second Street,” said Howard.

Donna Biggs, the switchboard operator at the McRaith Catholic Center – the diocese’s pastoral center – said she grew in friendship with Fr. Riney over a shared love of animals.

“His dog Sparky was a special dog in his life, and his cat, Anastasia,” said Biggs, who ultimately became Anastasia’s caretaker.

Biggs said she and her husband, John, became close with Fr. Riney over the years.

“He was just a very faith-filled, lovable person,” she said. “He made me happy to be around him, and I never once heard him say something derogatory about anyone.”

Biggs said Fr. Riney was “a good, gifted person, and many people loved him.”

“I will miss him – I do miss him,” she said.

Fr. Riney was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Marnell Riney and Mary Edna Russell. He is survived by his sisters, Ann Petrie (Gerald) of Indianapolis, Ind., and Cynthia Rumage (Michael) of Florence, Ky.; two nieces; two nephews; and many dear friends.

The funeral Mass took place Sept. 20 at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Henderson. Fr. Riney was laid to rest at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Owensboro.

Memorial contributions may be made to Holy Name Catholic Church, 511 2nd St., Henderson, KY 42420 or the Carmel Home, 2501 Old Hartford Rd., Owensboro, KY 42303.

Originally printed in the October 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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