Funeral for Bishop Sirba set for Dec. 6

The Mass of Christian Burial will be Dec. 6 for Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba, who died Dec. 1 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Visitation will be on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, located at 2801 East Fourth Street in Duluth, with the praying of the rosary to take place at 6 p.m. and vigil prayers at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at the cathedral on Friday, Dec. 6, from 8 a.m. until the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Following the funeral Mass, burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in Duluth.

WDIO-TV will livestream the funeral Mass on

Father James Bissonette

Father James Bissonette, who serves as pastor of St. Raphael Church in Duluth and St. Rose Catholic Church in Proctor, was elected as diocesan administrator. Under church law, a group of diocesan priests called the College of Consultors elects the diocesan administrator, who takes on some of the obligations and powers of a diocesan bishop and maintains the diocese in its ongoing work while it awaits the appointment of a new bishop by Pope Francis.

Bishop Sirba, 59, died Dec. 1 after suffering a cardiac arrest at St. Rose Church in Proctor, Minnesota, that morning, the diocese announced.

Bishop Sirba was rushed to Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where life-saving measures were attempted but were unsuccessful, Bissonette, vicar general, said in a message sent to diocesan clergy and employees and read at Masses. The bishop was administered last rites at the hospital by Father John Petrich, he said. Bishop Sirba was declared dead just after 9 a.m.

“Words do not adequately express our sorrow at this sudden loss of our Shepherd,” Father Bissonette said. “We have great hope and faith in Bishop Sirba’s​ resurrection to new life, and have confident assurance that he will hear the words of our Lord: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in the joy of your Master.’”

“I was shocked and deeply saddened [Dec. 1] when I learned about the death of Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth,” St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler said in a Dec. 2 statement. “Bishop Sirba was a kind and gentle leader who served the people of God with great joy and dedication. I appreciated serving with him as a fellow bishop in Minnesota. I ask you to please pray for him, for his family and for the people of the Diocese of Duluth as they mourn the loss of their shepherd. May he rest in peace.”

Bishop Sirba was raised in Bloomington, Minnesota, and attended Nativity of Mary grade school in Bloomington, the Academy of the Holy Angels in Richfield, the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul and St. Paul Seminary. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1986.

He served as associate pastor at St. Olaf in Minneapolis from 1986 to 1990, at St. John the Baptist in Savage from 1990 to 1991, as a member of the spiritual formation department at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul from 1991 to 2000, pastor of Maternity of the Blessed Virgin in St. Paul from 2000 to 2006, and spiritual director at the St. Paul Seminary from 2006 to 2009.

He was appointed vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on July 1, 2009. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of Duluth on Oct. 19, 2009; he was ordained on Dec. 14, 2009.

Bishop Sirba was preceded in death by his father, Norbert.  He is survived by his mother, Helen, of St. Paul; brothers, Father Joseph Sirba of Hinckley and John (SueAnn) of Bloomington; and a sister, Catherine (Scott) of Cannon Falls. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Duluth.

Note: This story was updated Dec. 5. Photo credits: Bishop Sirba (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, Catholic Spirit); Father Bissonette (Courtesy of Diocese of Duluth)

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

Leave a Reply