Bishop of Joliet resigns after taking medical leave

Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon

The Diocese of Joliet will be getting a new bishop following the resignation of the Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon, who had been serving as leader of the state’s second largest diocese for more than eight years.

Pope Francis on Monday, May 4 announced that he has accepted Conlon’s resignation and had appointed Bishop Richard E. Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, as apostolic administrator of the Joliet Diocese. Bishop Pates has been serving in this capacity while Bishop Conlon has been on medical leave.

“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. 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. We look forward to celebrating a Mass of Thanksgiving and reception in his honor soon.” Bishop Pates said in a statement released by the diocese.

Conlon was appointed to lead the diocese on May 17, 2011 and installed on July 14, 2011. On Dec. 27, 2019, the pope granted Conlon a medical leave of absence. He had not returned to his duties since that leave was granted.

In a statement released on May 4, Conlon said, “What a great privilege and blessing to serve as the Bishop of Joliet for the past nine years. Now I am grateful to Pope Francis for accepting my request to resign from that office and move into a new phase of life.

“2019 was a challenging year for me. 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. 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.

“I am very grateful to the people of this diocese, for their faith and the generosity with which they use their gifts for the sake of the Gospel. We are blessed with wonderful priests and deacons, men and women religious and, of course, beautiful lay men and women, young and old. My hope is to continue to live and minister among you and even reside in one of our rectories.”

Prior to coming to Joliet, Conlon served as bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio from 2002-11.

The Diocese of Joliet encompasses DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall and Will counties, and is second only to the Chicago Archdiocese in size. Its mother church is the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet, the diocesan seat.