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DULUTH, Minn. — Bishop Paul Sirba of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota died on Sunday, after suffering a heart attack before offering Mass. He was 59 years old.

“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I must inform you of tragic news regarding our Bishop,” said a Dec. 1 statement from Father James B. Bissonette, who had been the diocesan vicar general until the bishop’s death. The office of the vicar general ceases upon the death of the diocesan bishop.

“Words do not adequately express our sorrow at this sudden loss of our Shepherd,” Bissonette said.

Father Bissonette’s statement was distributed to clergy throughout the diocese and was read after Masses on Sunday.

Bishop Sirba went into cardiac arrest Sunday at St. Rose Church in Proctor, Minnesota, and was immediately rushed to a hospital, where attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. He received last rites from Father John Petrich, a hospital and prison chaplain in the diocese, and was pronounced dead shortly after 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Bishop Sirba was reportedly preparing for Mass when he fell ill.

“We have great hope and faith in Bishop Sirba’s resurrection to new life, and have confident assurance that he will hear the words of our Lord, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in the joy of your master,’” Father Bissonette’s statement added.

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