PUEBLO — Pueblo Catholics are preparing to say goodbye to Bishop Fernando Isern, who has resigned for health reasons.
The Cuban-born bishop was Pueblo's fourth bishop, serving there since 2009. The Pueblo diocese covers 48,000 square miles and 53 parishes.
Catholics plan a goodbye ceremony next week in Pueblo. Isern resigned June 13. Diocesan spokeswoman Katherine Chrisman said in a statement that an administrator would be named by Saturday.
Rome could spend six months to a year finding a permanent new bishop, she said. Isern, 54, was ordained as bishop in December 2009. He had been pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes parish for six years, the latest in a succession of positions he held with the Archdiocese of Miami before being chosen to lead Colorado's sprawling Pueblo Diocese.
Isern grew up and spent much of his adult life in south Florida, where he presumably will return to address his unspecified health issues.
Isern said in an open letter to the diocese Thursday that he is grateful for the warm reception he received here "as a stranger," which quickly made him feel at home.
It was with "a heavy heart" that he decided to resign, the letter said, but "Out of love for the church and for the people I have served here, I have discerned it is best for me to step down" because of health problems that have been interfering with his ability to do his job effectively.
Isern was the fourth bishop in the history of the Pueblo diocese, which was created in 1941. Headquartered in Pueblo, the diocese is home to more than 130,000 Catholics in Grand Junction, Durango and other Western Slope towns along with all of southeastern Colorado.