Pope Francis has named the next bishop of Pueblo, Colorado: Monsignor Stephen J. Berg of Fort Worth, Texas, a trained pianist who became a priest after a career as a business executive.
“You will have all I have to give,” Bishop-designate Berg, 62, told the people of his diocese at a Jan. 15 press conference in Pueblo. “I will also give my best to all of my people, especially the Hispanic ministry.”
Bishop-designate Berg, whose new diocese is predominantly rural and mountain, cited his own background in rural life in Montana and Texas. “My happiest moments in ministry were in the rural ministry of northwest Texas in the wide open spaces,” he said.
Addressing his new diocese’s priests, he said “We need each other. I need your support, and I promise you will have mine.”
He will succeed Bishop Fernando Isern, who retired in June 2013 for health reasons.
Bishop-designate Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth said his diocese is “very proud and joyful” at the appointment. “I personally am happy for him and the Diocese of Pueblo. At heart, Bishop-elect Berg is a good priest, a kind man, a true Christian and a wise leader.”
The bishop-to-be is a native of Miles City, Mont., the Diocese of Pueblo said. He is the oldest of the 10 children of Connie and Jeanne Berg and an uncle to 27 nieces and nephews. He is a nephew of Bishop emeritus Joseph L. Charron of Des Moines, Iowa.
He attended Catholic schools in Miles City and graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1979. He studied at Gonzaga University in Washington and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance.
Bishop-designate Berg on Jan. 15 noted his past in Colorado. “The best times of my life seem to be coming together, and they seem to fit. I am very at peace with this situation,” he said.
The future bishop earned a master’s degree in piano performance from Eastern New Mexico University in 1975 and a master’s of divinity from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio in the 1990s.
He taught music at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth and worked for 14 years as a manager and an executive in the retail nursery industry. In 1993 he entered Assumption Seminary and in 1999, Bishop Charron ordained him to the priesthood.
Bishop-designate Berg has served as parochial vicar, pastor and administrator at several Diocese of Fort Worth parishes. Bishop Kevin Vann named him the diocese’s vicar general in 2008. He also served as moderator of the curia of the Fort Worth diocese and as an adjunct spiritual director at Dallas’ Holy Trinity Seminary.
Pope Benedict XVI named him a monsignor in March 2012. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the International Serrans.
When Bishop Vann was moved to the Diocese of Orange, Calif. in December 2012, Msgr. Berg was chosen as administrator of the Fort Worth diocese. Bishop-designate Olson said that Msgr. Berg’s time as pastor, vicar general and diocesan minister has prepared him for his new assignment.
Bishop-designate Berg will be ordained a bishop and installed as head of the Pueblo diocese on Feb. 27.
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver welcomed the appointment, saying that the “Church will be enriched by his enthusiastic and energetic presence, and I am sure that the faithful will appreciate his love for Colorado.”
The archbishop praised the bishop-designate’s “rich family life,” his love of music, and his experience in both the corporate world and church life.
“I and the faithful of Northern Colorado pray that God will bless his ministry here in Colorado and make it bear abundant fruit!” Archbishop Aquila said in a Jan. 15 statement.
Bishop-designate Berg said in a statement he was “humbled and deeply moved” at his appointment.
“I know Colorado to be a beautiful land of beautiful people and I look forward to serving the faithful of Pueblo as their shepherd in Christ. I eagerly anticipate our future together as we grow and build our local church.”
The Pueblo diocese covers 48,000 square miles of territory across southern Colorado. It has about 64,000 Catholics in 53 parishes, 44 missions and four Catholic schools.