Local

Fresno Bishop Steinbock dies

FRESNO,  CALIF.  -- --   12/5/10 -- -- -  A large portrait of Roman Catholic Bishop John Steinbock sits prominently at St. John's Cathedral downtown as parishioners pray.  The leader of the Diocese of Fresno, Steinbock died Sunday , he was 73. Steinbock and been the diocese's bishop since 1991. The diocese includes about 1 million parishioners in Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Kings Merced, Mariposa, Inyo and Kern Counties. MARK CROSSE / THE FRESNO BEE
FRESNO, CALIF. -- -- 12/5/10 -- -- - A large portrait of Roman Catholic Bishop John Steinbock sits prominently at St. John's Cathedral downtown as parishioners pray. The leader of the Diocese of Fresno, Steinbock died Sunday , he was 73. Steinbock and been the diocese's bishop since 1991. The diocese includes about 1 million parishioners in Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Kings Merced, Mariposa, Inyo and Kern Counties. MARK CROSSE / THE FRESNO BEE Merced Sun-Star

Bishop John T. Steinbock, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, died early Sunday, church officials said.

According to an announcement released by the church about 8:30 a.m., Bishop Steinbock died at 3:10 a.m. surrounded by family, which included two brothers, nephews and nieces, his pastor and friends at Saint Agnes Medical Center.

The announcement said that Cardinal Roger Mahony and other high-ranking church officials in California and at the Vatican had been notified.

Plans for services are pending. The church said it would hold a formal news conference this afternoon.

Steinbock, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, was admitted to Saint Agnes in early November after complaining of shortness of breath and lack of energy. Tests revealed the bishop had a blood clot in his right lung and others in his legs.

Steinbock, 73, had been the diocese's bishop since 1991. He led a diocese of about 1 million parishioners in Merced, Mariposa, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Madera, Kern and Inyo counties.

In August, he announced to church officials and parishioners that he had lung cancer. He had been treated for facial cancer in the past year.

It is unknown whether the blood clots are related to Steinbock's cancer treatment, but the clots were a complication to the treatment and recovery, Deacon Jesse Avila said.

News of Steinbock's death saddened parish- ioners at downtown Fresno's St. John's Cathedral, where a small black wreath and ribbons were hung on the front of the cathedral in honor of Steinbock. Prayers were offered in his name during the church's morning Mass.

Steinbock's death came on the same day as downtown Fresno's annual Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession and Mass, an event Steinbock usually presided over.

In past years, Steinbock gave his traditional blessing before the procession started and delivered the Mass at the end of the celebration, which attracts thousands of Catholics from throughout the Central Valley.

Sunday was a solemn day because the procession and Mass were one of the bishop's favorite events, said Jessie Oviedo, a member of St. John's Cathedral's Guadalupe society.

It's almost ironic that "of all the days, he passed away today," said Alice Torres, another society member, who wore a small black ribbon in honor of the bishop.

"It's sad for the community, because he's been bishop for so long and he's done so much for the church," said parishioner Barbara Garcia of Fresno. "He will be sorely missed by everyone in the Catholic religion."

The funeral date is pending as the Catholic Diocese of Fresno works with his family on the arrangements, church officials said this afternoon.

Although a date for the funeral has not been set, the locations for the services were confirmed at a news conference Sunday. The viewing and rosary will be held at St. John's Cathedral, 2814 Mariposa St. Funeral services will be at St. Anthony of Padua, 5770 N. Maroa Ave., and burial will be at St. Peter's Cemetery, 264 N. Blythe Ave.

The services will be broadcast live on KNXT (Channel 49.1), the diocesan television station.

A successor to Steinbock could be named quickly, Avila said.

Before his death, Stein-bock offered a suggestion on who his successor should be, Avila said. He declined to say who Steinbock named.

  Comments