Local Television Report and Obituary
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Bishop John Steinbock, leader of the Diocese of Fresno, died this morning at 3:15 a.m. at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno surrounded by family and friends, said Msg. Ray Dreiling at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Visalia. Steinbock was diagnosed in August with Stage 3 lung cancer.
"He went very fast," Dreilng said.
On Saturday afternoon, Dreiling went to Fresno to say his goodbyes to the Bishop.
Although he was unconscious, Dreling said he spoke to him and offered a blessing.
"I told him that I loved him," he said. "I told him 'You're the best Bishop a priest could ever have.'"
Steinbock came to the Diocese of Fresno 19 years ago from Los Angeles, Dreiling said. He was last in Visalia to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the spring at St. Mary's.
Memorials for the Bishop and Mass times have not been scheduled yet, he said.
His successor will be appointed by Pope Benedict XVI following an investigative process, he said. In the meantime, a priest will be elected by a board of diocesan priests to run the day to day operations of the diocese which stretches roughly from the coastal mountains to the Nevada border and from Mariposa County to Frazier Park.
Bishop was clearly, from day one, a man of and for El Pueblo de Dios. The one affectation of his that I'll always remember was ironically related to another thread going on now about English diction: bishop said the word "believe" always with one syllable- "b'leve." It was an endearing oddity. As a believer, however, he appeared the genuine article. And as faithful a pastor and shepherd in as convoluted, geographically and demographically challenging diocese that one could imagine. He restored fiscal integrity that had eroded. And though not being a particularly interested liturgist, he did always celebrate with evident joy and with, again, genuine faith evident to all. Like all bishops in this era, any detractors fomented secretly and sometimes anonymously on the net and in small, "when sheep attack" cabals to no avail. He always preached and practiced reconciliation and redemption first and foremost, for his people and, when needed, for his priests that needed his counsel, direction and encouragement. If his liturgical savvy wasn't everyone's cup of tea, he more than compensated for that with his unwavering commitment to social justice and gospel values. His tastes were of the people as well. I think that as much as he would love to have presided over one more Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, what the Rock now has dubbed "American Catholicism's primary holiday," he seemed quite prepared to celebrate her feast in her presence personally if that was God's will. And he, even in the last few days, kept a conscious interest in calling some of his pastor priests from his bed and checking up on local projects and interests, which in some cases proved disconcerting for the priest on the other end of the line! But that was typical Bishop John.
He "b'leved" in His Lord and savior Jesus, the Holy Spirit and his Heavenly Father with a ever present smile during his homilies. He also "b'leved" in the essential inclination of his fellow humans towards goodness and charity. And he lived as he "b'leved."
This morning's Masses heard Lloyd-Webber's "Pie Jesu" as a prelude, the Introit Antiphon "Requiem" and a congregational singing of "In paradisum" in Latin at the dismissal and recessional of the pastor.