Madison community says farewell to one of its spiritual leaders

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MADISON (WKOW) — Madison’s Catholic community said goodbye to its spiritual leader Tuesday. Bishop Robert Morlino was laid to rest during a ceremony at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Madison.

“I think the bishop was just a great shepherd,” said Jeff Hoeben, executive director of Camp Gray, a summer camp that’s part of the Diocese of Madison.

It was a final mass for the man who led the diocese for more than a decade. Parishioners crowded the pews to pay these final respects. The look of sadness on many faces.

Before the service started, church officials prepared Morlino for his final journey. The Knights of Columbus led the procession as his body was brought back into the sanctuary.

The solemn ceremony was attended by local and political leaders, including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Representative-elect Bryan Steil, as well as faith leaders.

Morlino’s passing was sudden and will leave a void in the hearts of many in the Madison community who admired his leadership and compassion.

“I was sick with cancer seven years ago and Bishop Morlino came to see me in the hospital,” Hoeben said.

However, his impact on the community will last long after he’s gone.

Michael Wanta credits Morlino for helping him down the path towards priesthood.

“Just being able to see him and his love for Christ and also his care for his seminary,” Wanta said.

“We have a lot of staff that become seminaries and go into the priesthood and then into religious life because of the influence Bishop Morlino had in his drive for vocation,” Hoeben said.

Tuesday’s service was a celebration of what some are calling an extraordinary life.

“He really set out to do great things. And he accomplished that. So I think his death will be felt throughout this community, the Catholic community for sure, for a long time to come,” he said.

“Bishop Morlino was a great leader and a great spiritual father here in the diocese,” Wanta said.

Morlino’s body rested in a closed casket during the nearly two hour service. His body was then taken to Resurrection Cemetery in Madison for a final burial.

David Johnson

David Johnson

Reporter, WKOW

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