Bishop Pates to lead Joliet, Ill., diocese temporarily during bishop’s medical leave

| December 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, announced he is taking a medical leave of absence starting Dec. 27. Retired Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, will be apostolic administrator of the diocese while Bishop Conlon is away.

A Twin Cities native, Bishop Pates, 76, has been living in Mendota Heights since his retirement.

A statement from the Joliet diocese did not disclose the exact reason for the medical leave.

Bishop Conlon, 71, expressed in the statement “his deep affection” for the clergy, religious and laity of Joliet and said he planned to keep them in his prayers during the time away from his responsibilities.

He also asked for prayers from the faithful of the diocese.

Bishop Pates said he welcomed “the opportunity to journey with the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the local Church.”

“The diocesan community enjoys an outstanding reputation, and I feel privileged to participate in your faith life,” Bishop Pates said in a statement.

He called Bishop Conlon “a good bishop” who will “benefit from his time away.”

“We, the Catholic Church, dedicate ourselves anew to the life-giving message of Jesus Christ as we embrace a new year and a new decade,” Bishop Pates added. “May we humbly experience ‘the Joy of the Gospel’ in the spirit of our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis.”

Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1968, Bishop Pates served as an auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 2001 to 2008, when he was appointed bishop of Des Moines. He returned to Minnesota following his retirement in September 2019.

He has been living at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights at the John R. Roach faculty residence with plans to assist Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens as needed.

Bishop Pates told The Catholic Spirit Dec. 27 he was glad to help Bishop Conlon, and he expected the appointment to last several months. He said that he knows Bishop Conlon well, but not the Diocese of Joliet. However, he said, the people there have been “very welcoming, very friendly.”

“I’ve still got energy,” he said. “I have great admiration for Bishop Conlon, so if I can be of assistance to him for a number of months, I’m happy to do so.”

He plans to spend partial weeks in Joliet and continue to live in the Twin Cities, where he has been assisting at parishes since his retirement. The appointment did not change his plans to attend the “ad limina” visit to Pope Francis in January with the bishops of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, which happens to coincide with the “ad limina” visit of the bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

He said he saw similarities among the people and the culture, including “Midwest charm,” in the dioceses of Des Moines and Joliet.

He described the appointment as “a continuation” of his episcopal ministry. “I wasn’t necessarily anticipating this,” he said, “but they (the Holy See) invited me to do this, and for a number of months I’ll be able to do this and then slide gradually into retirement.”

— Maria Wiering, editor-in-chief of The Catholic Spirit, contributed to this report

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