Pope Benedict XVI yesterday named Father Paul Sirba the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn. He replaces Bishop Dennis Schnurr, who was named archbishop of Cincinnati last fall.
Sirba, 49, is a 1982 graduate of the College of St. Thomas, where he earned a B.A. in philosophy. He went on to earn his Master of Divinity degree from the St. Paul Seminary and a Master of Arts degree in spiritual theology from the Notre Dame Apostolic Catechetical Institute in Arlington, Va.
After his ordination, Sirba served as associate pastor at St. Olaf Church in downtown Minneapolis (1986-1990) and at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Savage (1990-1991). He was a member of the spiritual formation department at the St. John Vianney Seminary, the college-level seminary housed on the St. Thomas campus, from 1991 to 2000. He served as pastor at Maternity of Mary parish in St. Paul from 2000 to 2006 and as spiritual director at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity from 2006 to 2009. He was named vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in July.
Sirba is the son of Helen and the late Norbert Sirba of Bloomington. He has two brothers, Father Joseph Sirba, pastor of St. Edward's Catholic Church in Longville, Minn., and John Sirba, and a sister, Catherine Kelly.
Sirba is the second St. Thomas alumnus named a bishop in recent months. The Most Rev. Lee Piché, who earned his B.A. in philosophy from St. Thomas in 1980 and went on to study at the St. Paul Seminary, was named an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in May. He now serves on St. Thomas' Board of Trustees.