Bishop Robert C. Morlino

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Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who led the Diocese of Madison, Wis., for 15 years, died Nov. 24 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. He was 71.

The bishop was undergoing planned medical tests when he suffered what doctors described as “a cardiac event” at the hospital and he never recovered.

On Nov. 26, the diocesan College of Consultors unanimously elected Msgr. James Bartylla, vicar general, to be administrator of the diocese until a successor to Bishop Morlino is appointed.

A Funeral Mass was celebrated Dec. 4 at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison, followed by burial at Resurrection Cemetery. The principal celebrant was Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki.

In a statement about the bishop’s death, the diocese said, “Bishop Morlino accomplished what he set out to do in the diocese” after his Aug. 1, 2003, installation.

Among his priorities was increasing “the number and quality of the men ordained to the diocesan priesthood,” it said.

“Fostering greater priestly vocations” resulted in his ordination of 40 men to the priesthood during his tenure. Another 24 are in formation.

Bishop Morlino also aimed “to instill a greater sense of reverence throughout the entire diocese, especially through our worship of God, celebrated in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and to challenge Catholic institutions in the diocese to live out their professed faith in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, through their ministry in the secular community,” the diocese said.

Born in Scranton, Pa., he was an only child. He graduated from the Jesuit-run Scranton Preparatory High School. He entered the seminary for the Maryland province of the Society of Jesus and was ordained to the priesthood for that province in 1974.

He taught philosophy at Loyola College in Baltimore, St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, Boston College, and the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College in Indiana. He also served as director of parish renewal programs

In 1981, he became a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Mich., and served there as vicar for spiritual development, executive assistant and theological consultant to the bishop, moderator of the curia and promoter of justice in the diocesan tribunal. He was administrator of a number of parishes, and later rector of St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo.

St. John Paul II appointed him the ninth bishop of Helena, Mont. in July 1999.

Bishop Morlino was named fourth bishop of Madison in May 2003.

On the national level, Bishop Morlino is a past chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Diaconate and its Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care Issues and the Church.

He also was a past chairman of the board of directors of the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University, a master’s in philosophy from Notre Dame and a master of divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass. He also held a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.—CNS

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