Bishop celebrates first anniversary

On February 27, Bishop Stephen Berg celebrated his first anniversary as the bishop of Pueblo. Here, he answered some questions about his first year in Pueblo as he looks back but also looks to the future.

Q: Reflect back on your first year in the diocese.

A: Yesterday afternoon, newly-ordained Deacon Stephen Injoalu was driving me to Trinidad to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation at Holy Trinity parish. At about Walsenburg we ran into a sudden, heavy, wet snowstorm. At the same time, Deacon Allan Medina’s truck, driving from Lamar to assist us in the Confirmations in Trinidad, had broken down on the road and a tow truck was on the way to bring Deacon Allan into Trinidad. We all arrived in time to enjoy a hearty meal, conversation with the candidates, and a brilliant, spirit-filled celebration of Confirmation for 23 young people. Thank you, Fr. Steven Murray and the people of Holy Trinity!

The short answer: My first year in Pueblo has been “on the go.” Watch out, be ready, be flexible. Everything we do requires cooperation and adjustment. And, everything we do turns out accordingly to the Lord, and thank you, Holy Spirit, for all of that!

Q: What were some of your memorable moments?

Getting out and greeting the people; meeting the clergy. Our clergy are so vital in our efforts. People have responded positively and have been so encouraging of our efforts. On a personal level, I am encountering the faith in all corners of the diocese and I am growing into my calling as Bishop because of the people. Last week, travelling for Confirmations I was able to visit the hospitals in Montrose and Grand Junction and to visit our sick parishioners in those hospitals. We had wonderful conversations and I heard such good news that our hospitals are being well served by our priests and deacons. This is very important to all of us.

Q: What challenges lie ahead?

As a rule it is difficult for us as a diocese to get together to talk about things. Our geographical divide and our uncertain weather makes it difficult for us to schedule meetings, and even for getting me to the people. I can always drive and get to the people but sometimes it is dangerous for them to try to drive to meet me. We had to cancel a trip from Grand Junction to Durango earlier in January due to snow storms, and then we had to return to Pueblo without seeing the people in Durango. This was difficult and a huge disappointment. Communications, connections and coordination have to be constantly addressed. Thank God for those who work in the parishes and in our chancery on this. Also there is the priest shortage. As blessed as we are with missionary priests, from other countries and cultures, I do wonder if we are recognizing the vocations we have here in our own parishes and missions.

If you know of someone thinking of a vocation to the religious life, please tell them to call me.

A vocation to Jesus Christ is a wonderful life and filled with so many blessings.

AB Aniverssary2 450x350Q: Now that you’ve traveled around to all corners of the diocese, how do you describe what you’ve encountered?

I see positive effects and progress, in areas where I have visited. In the past year I have been around the diocese five or six times, to the major events, but have not yet been able to visit all the parishes and missions. For our priorities of family life, youth, and Hispanic ministry, I see strong steps being taken towards our priorities, for instance in the Catechetical Days which include the Hispanic priority, the Catholic schools, and in many of our youth programs.

Q: Personally, what are you feeling as you mark one year in Pueblo?

I am plainly happy and overjoyed to be here. This has been the best year of my life. I hope others are seeing this also. This year it has not been easy getting to know this diocese, and I expect more work into the years to come. I have to admit that if this had been absolutely easy, I might not have become this intrigued and engaged. I am engaged. From my own background, growing up in Eastern Montana, studying in Boulder, then in New Mexico and finding my priestly ministry in Texas, I believe that the Diocese of Pueblo and myself fit in the way that Colorado and I were formed: In hospitality, diversity, challenge, and in the work of the Holy Spirit. I know this fits for me, and I am getting a response so far that it fits for a lot of people here as well, whom I am meeting and whom I am growing to love and admire. I do see what we are up against, but beyond that I see the faith that we cherish, and our hope for our people, our future in Jesus Christ. I think now that we are heading in the right direction. I hope and firmly believe that, with God’s help, we will bring this “fit” to earth in our beloved Diocese of Pueblo. I am in love with being your Bishop. Thanks be to Jesus Christ!