New Pueblo bishop visits Cortez, Montelores community

Left to right: Acolyte-Rachel Zetts, Postulate Javier Castillo, Acolyte-Nate Baker, Rev. Monsignor James King, Bishop Stephen Berg, Acolytes-Kayla Garchar, Celestino Fernandez and Kevin Morales are pictured inside St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church in Cortez. Enlargephoto

Courtesy photo/Rosa Sabido

Left to right: Acolyte-Rachel Zetts, Postulate Javier Castillo, Acolyte-Nate Baker, Rev. Monsignor James King, Bishop Stephen Berg, Acolytes-Kayla Garchar, Celestino Fernandez and Kevin Morales are pictured inside St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church in Cortez.

The newly elected Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo, Bishop Stephen J. Berg, made a pastoral visit to the Montelores Catholic community on March 16.

The Montelores community welcomed Bishop Berg by celebrating Mass at St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church in Cortez, officiating Bishop Berg, Rev. Monsignor James King, Rev. Pat Valdez and Postulate Javier Castillo. A pancake breakfast followed, prepared by the Knights of Columbus and served by the Junior Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

“It was a very impressionable moment for me to be able to meet the new Bishop of our Diocese so soon after his installation,” stated Nate Baker, a parishioner of the Montelores Catholic community.

Bishop-elect Berg was installed as the fifth bishop of the diocese of Pueblo on Feb. 27. The 72-year-old Pueblo diocese covers 48,000 square miles, including 52 parishes, 44 missions and four Catholic schools, with a population of about 64,000 Catholics.

Bishop-elect Berg succeeds Bishop Emeritus Fernando Isern, who served as the fourth bishop of Pueblo from 2009 to 2013. The Holy Father, Pope Francis approved Isern’s official resignation on June 13, 2013. Health issues made it difficult for Isern to remain in the office as shepherd of the diocese.

“He chose to resign in order to entrust his flock to a man with the strength and energy necessary to be an effective shepherd,” reported the Catholic News Agency.

Pope Francis named Berg, formally the Diocesan Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, as the bishop of the Pueblo diocese on Jan. 15.

“I am humbled and deeply moved that Pope Francis has appointed me to be the next Bishop of Pueblo,” stated Berg in a diocesan press release. “I know Colorado to be a beautiful land of beautiful people and I look forward to serving the faithful of Pueblo as their shepherd in Christ. I eagerly anticipate our future together as we grow and build our local church.”

Berg, 62, was born in Miles City, Mont., as the oldest of 10 children to Connie and Jeanne Berg. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a bachelor’s in music in piano performance, later earning a master’s in music from Eastern New Mexico University.

After teaching music at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth and working as the vice president for divisions of Sunbelt Nursery for 14 years, he entered Assumption Seminary in San Antonio in 1993. He earned a master’s of divinity degree from Oblate School of Theology and was ordained in 1999 by his maternal uncle, Bishop Joseph L. Charron. Bishop-elect Berg then served as parochial vicar, pastor and administrator at various parishes. He was named vicar general of the Fort Worth Diocese in 2008 by Bishop Kevin Vann. Pope Benedict XVI named him a monsignor in March 2012.