Bishop Stephen Berg, former Fort Worth priest, ordained and installed fifth bishop of Pueblo, Colo.

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

Photos by Donna Ryckaert

March 3, 2014

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Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, metropolitan of the Denver Province, ordains Monsignor Stephen Berg to the episcopacy.

En Español

As his mother, nine siblings, and uncle, Bishop Emeritus Joseph L. Charron of Des Moines, looked on, Stephen J. Berg was ordained and installed the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, during a Feb. 27 Mass that celebrated faith and family.

The crowd filling the 1,600-seat Pueblo Memorial Hall included a large contingent from the Diocese of Fort Worth, where the new bishop was ordained a priest in 1999 and served as pastor and diocesan administrator until the ordination of Fort Worth’s new bishop, Michael F. Olson Jan. 29. Pope Francis named the Miles City, Montana, native the next bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo on Jan. 15.

Nine members of the Ingler family traveled from rural North Texas to see their former pastor become a bishop.

“It was important for us to come and support him in his new journey with Christ,” said Chance Ingler, a member of St. Joseph Church in Nocona. “It was a beautiful ceremony, and he is a beautiful man. Our loss is Pueblo’s gain.”

Michelle Hoover of Aledo, Bishop Berg’s first cousin, was one of 50 family members who came to Colorado for the ordination.

“I wanted to be part of this. I’m just so proud of Steve,” said the Holy Redeemer parishioner. “Getting to see other relatives is a wonderful part of this celebration. But I’m a little disappointed he’s leaving Fort Worth.”

Principal consecrator Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, metropolitan of the Denver Province, performed the sacred rite of laying on of hands and recitation of the prayer of ordination, assisted by co-consecrators Bishop Charron and Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, who had also served as Pueblo’s apostolic administrator. The anointing of the head with sacred chrism — symbolic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit — and the presentation of the Book of the Gospels and episcopal ring, miter, and crosier were completed beneath a 15-foot crucifix constructed specifically for the occasion by local carpenter Michael Cora. A 5 ½-foot corpus attached to the cross Cora had formed was borrowed from St. Pius X Church in Pueblo.

Bishop Olson participated in the liturgy, along with 15 fellow bishops, 100 priests, and 60 deacons. More than a dozen members of the clergy were from the Diocese of Fort Worth.

One of the visiting priests was Father Kyle Walterscheid, pastor of Bl. John Paul II University Parish in Denton, who studied for the priesthood with the new bishop at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio.

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Bishop-elect Berg lies prostrate before the altar moments before his ordination as bishop.

“Our readings for Lent ask us to be mindful of becoming a humble servant who is compassionate and forgiving, and that’s who Bishop Berg is. He identifies with what the pope is trying to bring into ministry,” said Fr. Walterscheid of his longtime friend. “He will definitely be a person who is bishop for the people as well as his own priests.”

In his homily, Archbishop Aquila reminded worshippers that bishops are entrusted with the same mission Jesus Christ gave his apostles.

“They are the successors of the apostles,” he explained. “Throughout the generations, up to this day, there is that unbroken succession given to the Church so she might proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ.”

The consecrating archbishop advised Bishop-elect Berg to form a close connection between himself and the priests in the diocese.

“They will be your closest collaborators,” he assured. “Come to know them and love them as Christ loved the apostles.”

A bishop must build the same familiarity with the people in his diocese. Paraphrasing the words of Pope Francis, he said bishops and priests should be shepherds who take on the smell of their sheep and become involved in the lives of people under their care, especially the poor and those who do not know Christ.

“Follow in the steps of Jesus and embrace the crosses that will be given to you,” the archbishop said in closing. “May you become the icon of the Good Shepherd.”

Several friends and members of the Berg family were invited to participate in the Ordination Mass. Lucas Pollice, former director of adult catechesis for the Diocese of Fort Worth who now lives in Denver, read the second reading from 1 Timothy. Nieces and a nephew of the bishop presented the offertory gifts.

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Bishop Berg’s uncle, Bishop Emeritus Joseph Charron of Des Moines, lays hands on his nephew as one of the principal co-consecrators.

Sister Frances de la Cruz, a Capuchin Poor Clare of the Heavenly Father, read the first reading from Isaiah in Spanish. The Pueblo religious order is a cloistered community, but the sisters journeyed from their monastery for the special occasion.

“We prayed a lot for the Lord to send a new shepherd, and He answered the prayers of many people,” the nun said. “We came out to meet the new bishop.”

 Addressing the congregation at the end of the Ordination Mass, Bishop Berg acknowledged the people who formed and guided his faith journey.

“What you see in this section is much of my past life and the reasons for which I am here,” he said, gesturing toward the center rows of the auditorium crowded with people from Montana, Texas, and California.

He called participating in the lives of so many relatives and friends “a gift” and singled out for special recognition his 88-year-old mother, Jeanne, and his late father, Conrad Berg, for the sacrifices they made raising and educating him.

As a new chapter in his life began to unfold in recent weeks, Bishop Berg said he processed the changes by remembering the past.

“But I’m here for the future, and I’m here for the people of Pueblo,” he asserted.

Leaving no doubt he will approach his responsibilities with whole-hearted determination, the new bishop told parishioners in his new diocese, “I belong to you.”

Covering the southern and western parts of Colorado (nearly half of the state), the Diocese of Pueblo is geographically huge, covering 48,100 square miles, but sparsely populated. Parishes are separated by distance, with some quite isolated. Catholics comprise about 10 percent the population.

The layout of his new diocese reminded Bishop Berg of his time as a rural pastor ministering to the needs of four, widespread parishes in North Texas.

“And I see some of you have six, seven, or eight parishes and missions,” he said, addressing the throng of white-robed diocesan priests. “I just want to say I will get to know and listen to you. We are going to work together.”

As he grows into his new role as bishop of Pueblo, the former college music instructor and corporate executive of a nursery business, asked for prayers.

“I was very surprised by your call last December,” Bishop Berg said, speaking to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, who delivered news of Monsignor Berg’s appointment to bishop of Pueblo from Pope Francis.

“I promise you, as I did then to our Holy Father, I will give it everything that I’ve got,” he stated, as the assembly applauded their appreciation.

See also

Bp-elect-Berg-in-Pueblo-BUTTON.jpgDiocesan faithful will miss Bishop-elect Berg, but rejoice with him in his appointment

Margarita Luna greeted the news with mixed emotions. On Jan. 15, Pope Francis named her friend, Monsignor Stephen Berg, the new bishop of Pueblo, Colorado. “I’m happy for him but sad for me,” said Luna, who assisted the newly appointed bishop-elect when he was pastor of St. Mary Church in Henrietta. “I think he will be a wonderful bishop, but our diocese will miss him.”

Bp-elect-Berg-Portrait-BUTTON.jpg‘Thy will be done’: Always trusting God’s will, diocese’s Msgr. Berg to become bishop of Pueblo, CO

Those who witnessed the priestly ordination of Stephen Berg, May 15, 1999, may recall the tender familial atmosphere that was present in the church. The new priest at that time recalled the ceremony as having been “solemn, elegant, and graceful,” yet, for most observers, the liturgy’s warm spirit surpassed the majestic nature that is a signature quality of ordinations.

Bp-Berg-w-family-BUTTON.jpg‘He’s a keeper’: Bishop Berg’s family reacts to his episcopal appointment

When one of their own accomplishes something noteworthy in life, neighbors in the close-knit town of Miles City, Montana, like to make a fuss. So when Stephen Berg, the son of longtime residents Jeanne and the late Conrad Berg, was named the next bishop of Pueblo, Colorado, the news spread faster than a Texas wildfire.

Bp-Berg-concelebrating-BUTTON.jpgLocal clergy react to Bishop Berg’s appointment

It’s been a banner season for new bishops selected from the Diocese of Fort Worth. The diocese’s own Monsignor Michael Olson was appointed bishop of Fort Worth, Nov. 19, 2013 and ordained and installed Jan. 29; and Diocesan Administrator Monsignor Steven Berg received the papal call to shepherd the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado Jan 15, and was ordained and installed Feb. 27.

Bp-Berg-Vespers-hugs-Bp-Charron-BUTTON.jpgOn eve of ordination, Bishop-elect Berg advised to share his gifts to lead his new flock to Christ

When faced with tough decisions during his years as a pastor and later as diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Fort Worth, Monsignor Stephen Berg knew there was a trusting soul who understood the challenges of ministry. For advice and encouragement he turned to his uncle, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines Joseph L. Charron, also known to his many nieces and nephews as “Bishop Uncle Joe.”

Bp-Berg---Bp-Charron-laying-hands-BUTTON.jpgAs his mother, nine siblings, and uncle, Bishop Emeritus Joseph L. Charron of Des Moines, looked on, Stephen J. Berg was ordained and installed the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, during a Feb. 27 Mass that celebrated faith and family. The crowd filling the 1,600-seat Pueblo Memorial Hall included a large contingent from the Diocese of Fort Worth, where the new bishop was ordained a priest in 1999 and served as a pastor and as diocesan administrator until the ordination of Fort Worth’s new bishop, Michael F. Olson Jan. 29. Pope Francis named the Miles City, Montana, native the next bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo on Jan. 15.

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