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Duluth bishop Sirba dies unexpectedly

Sirba suffered a heart attack at St. Rose’s Church in Proctor on Sunday morning, the Catholic Diocese of Duluth reported. He was rushed to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where he died just after 9 a.m.

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Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba speaks during a news conference in October. Sirba died unexpectedly Sunday morning after suffering a heart attack, the Catholic Diocese of Duluth announced. (2019 file / News Tribune)

Bishop Paul Sirba, who has led the Catholic Diocese of Duluth for a decade, died unexpectedly Sunday morning, the diocese announced.

Sirba suffered a heart attack at St. Rose Church in Proctor, according to a message from the Rev. James Bissonnette, pastor at St. Raphael and St. Rose churches and Sirba’s vicar general. Sirba was rushed to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where he died just after 9 a.m., Bissonnette said.

“Words do not adequately express our sorrow at this sudden loss of our Shepherd,” Bissonnette said in the message.

Sirba, 59, was named the Duluth diocese’s ninth bishop in 2009, succeeding Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.

Sirba was raised in Bloomington, Minn., and attended what is now the University of St. Thomas and the St. Paul Seminary. He received a master of divinity degree from the St. Paul Seminary and a master of arts degree from the Notre Dame Apostolic Catechetical Institute in Arlington, Va.

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After his ordination in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1986, he served as associate pastor at the Church of St. Olaf in Minneapolis until 1990; at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Savage, Minn., from 1990-91; as a member of the spiritual formation department at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul from 1991-2000; as pastor of the Church of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin in St. Paul from 2000-06; and as spiritual director at the St. Paul Seminary from 2006-09.

Sirba was appointed vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt on July 1, 2009, shortly before being named to the Duluth diocese post.

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming, Bissonnette said.

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