MADISON, Wis. — Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison died the evening of Saturday, Nov. 24, at St. Mary Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, the diocese has announced. He was 71.
On Friday, the Diocese of Madison issued a statement saying that Morlino had suffered a “cardiac event” while undergoing scheduled medical tests on Wednesday. At the time, he was initially reported to be “resting.” On Saturday, Vicar General, Msgr. James Bartylla released an urgent prayer request saying that things had taken a turn and “it is likely that our hope lays in a miracle at this point.”
Six hours after the Diocese of Madison published Bartylla’s prayer request, the diocesan Facebook page posted that Morlino had died.
“The all-night prayer vigil for Bishop Robert Morlino, at Holy Name Heights (702 S. High Point Rd, Madison) continues, now for the repose of his soul, ending with benediction and Sunday morning Mass, said for his intention, at 8:00 AM,” said the diocese on Facebook.
“Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.”
A more formal statement was released hours later.
Morlino was installed as the fourth bishop of Madison Aug. 1, 2003. Prior to his time in Madison, Morlino was Bishop of Helena.
A native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Morlino was initially ordained a Jesuit priest in 1974. During his time as a Jesuit, he taught philosophy at several universities, including Loyola College in Baltimore, Boston College, and the University of Notre Dame. In 1983, he became a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. He was consecrated as a bishop in 1999. At the time of his consecration, he was preparing to become a full-time professor of theology at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
In the statement announcing his death, the Diocese of Madison outlined Morlino’s three priorities as bishop. These were to “increase the number and quality of men ordained to the diocesan priesthood,” to increase a sense of reverence throughout the diocese, and “to challenge Catholic institutions in the diocese to live out their professed faith in Jesus Christ” with their ministry in the secular realm.
“All objective indicators point to the fact that Bishop Morlino accomplished what he set out to do in the diocese,” said the diocese. Morlino ordained 40 men during his 15 years as bishop, and there are another 24 seminarians in formation within the diocese. Additionally, there were “significant inroads toward encouraging the Catholic institutions in his care to live out their mission with greater fidelity.”
In August of this year, Morlino released a pastoral letter saying the “homosexual subculture” within the Church was “wreaking great devastation.” He also called for additional Masses of reparation and fasting, and promised to respond firmly to any allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the clergy or seminarians.
Funeral arrangements for the bishop have not yet been finalized.