Bishop Sirba dies at age 59
December 6, 2019
Diocese of Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba died unexpectedly Sunday, Dec.1, after suffering cardiac arrest on his way to celebrate Mass at St. Rose Church in Proctor.
"Bishop Sirba was a role model to all of us," said Queen of Peace pastor Father Justin Fish. "I've known him since I was in the seminary, and he will be missed. Father Sirba emulated what the priesthood is all about: preaching the gospel through not only his words, but his actions. He was a kind, joyful, and holy man."
Bishop Sirba, who was 59, had recently spent some time in Cloquet, first at a donor's dinner to help raise funds for the Queen of Peace School, and more recently to administer the sacrament of Confirmation to the young adults of the parish. He also came for the blessing of the Sawyer Log Church in September.
Bishop Sirba was ordained the ninth bishop of Duluth on Dec. 14, 2009, and was soon to celebrate his 10th anniversary as bishop.
A vigil for Sirba was scheduled at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth Thursday, Dec. 5, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and then continuing from 8 a.m. Friday until the funeral at 11 a.m. His surviving family includes his mother, Helen, and his siblings, Father Joe, who was pastor at Queen of Peace for several years, Kathy, and John, and their families.
Under church law, within the next several days a group of diocesan priests called the College of Consultors will convene to choose a diocesan administrator. The priest chosen for this role will take care of the diocese until a new bishop is appointed by Pope Francis. The length of that process is uncertain, but it typically takes about a year.
Father James Bissonette was named diocesan administrator Wednesday and will oversee the diocese until a new bishop is appointed.
"Our faithful are in shock and they're grieving, and rightly so, because they loved Bishop Sirba, and he was a very kind, gentle, faithful shepherd," Bissonette said. "A lot of people felt that and understood that and now are showing appreciation for that. I myself am grieving not only because like the other priests of the diocese I lost a good shepherd, but he was also a good friend."