Bishop Conlon resigns as Joliet diocese leader

Work will begin immediately to find a replacement for Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, whose resignation as leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet was announced today by Pope Francis.

Bishop Richard E. Pates, 77, will continue as the Joliet diocese's temporary apostolic administrator, according to the pope's announcement. Pates, who is bishop emeritus of Des Moines, has served in that capacity for the Joliet archdiocese since Conlon went on medical leave in late December.

Conlon, 71, who has been bishop of Joliet since July 2011, will head into retirement. Pates, who retired from his Des Moines post in 2019, offered his best wishes to Conlon in a statement Monday.

"On behalf of the entire diocese, I extend to Bishop Conlon heartfelt thanks for the dedicated and effective ministry that he has rendered the Diocese of Joliet during his tenure as its shepherd," Pates said. "We assure the bishop of our continuing prayer, especially for his good health. May his retirement be a blessed time. We feel fortunate that he intends to remain with us in the diocese."

Joliet archdiocese spokesman Alex Rechenmacher said there is no timeline for finding a permanent replacement for Conlon as bishop, but the process will begin immediately. He said the Vatican essentially will run the search process.

Conlon thanked Pates for heading the Joliet archdiocese until the pope appoints a new bishop. In a statement, Conlon said last year was challenging for him.

"I experienced a lot of stress and fatigue, which I did not always handle well, along with some serious medical issues, plus the death of my best friend," Conlon said. "I knew I needed a break. The leave of absence the Holy Father granted me at the beginning of this year was a huge blessing. I experienced personal healing and was able to recognize that, at 71, I am no longer able to carry the burden of leadership of a large diocese."

Conlon was bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, when Pope Benedict XVI named him to lead Joliet. The Joliet diocese includes DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall and Will counties.

He began his religious vocation in 1975 when he was ordained a priest.

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Bishop Richard E. Pates is the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet's temporary apostolic administrator. He'll serve until Pope Francis appoints a replacement for Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, whose resignation as leader of the Joliet archdiocese was announced today. Courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet
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