On Thursday morning, Pope Benedict named Msgr. Paul D. Sirba, currently vicar general and moderator of the curia in St. Paul and Minneapolis, as the ninth Bishop of Duluth, Minnesota, filling the position left vacant when Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr was appointed as coadjutor of Cincinnati, Ohio in October 2008.
Two other bishop's appointments were also announced by the Vatican today: Fr. Fernando Isern as Bishop of Pueblo, Colorado and Msgr. Robert C. Evans as auxiliary of the Diocese of Providence, R.I.
According to the Diocese of Duluth, Bishop-elect Sirba was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1986 and served as an associate pastor for five years. He then worked as a member of the spiritual formation department at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul from 1991 – 2000.
For the next six years, Msgr. Sirba, served as a pastor before becoming spiritual director at the Saint Paul Seminary in 2006. He remained at the seminary until this past July when he was appointed vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese.
Archbishop John Neinstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis expressed his joy at Msgr. Sirba's appointment, praising his dedication to the priesthood.
“Bishop-elect Sirba has been a priest of this Archdiocese for 23 years, and during that time, he has served with great distinction as a pastor, spiritual director at both our undergraduate and graduate seminaries, and more recently, as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese,” Archbishop Nienstedt said in a statement today. “ He is held in high esteem by the clergy of this local church. Along with his brother priests and the parishioners he has served, I greatly value his many valuable contributions to the building up of our Catholic faith here in St. Paul and Minneapolis. He will truly be missed.”
The diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Duluth, Fr. James Bissonette, also welcomed the news of the appointment, noting the bishop-elect's character and spiritual life.
“I have known Bishop-elect Sirba since our seminary days. I know him to be a very good man and a fine priest with a deep spirituality. It is a special joy that he comes to our diocese somewhat familiar with it, since he already knows many of the priests and his brother Father Joseph Sirba serves here as a pastor.
“I, together with the lay faithful, religious and clergy of the Diocese of Duluth, welcome our new bishop and look forward not only to his ordination and his installation but to assisting him in his new mission as our shepherd.”
The bishop-elect will serve 60,532 Catholics, 82 priests and 142 religious in the Diocese of Duluth.