Service honors late bishop's legacy

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A service on Sunday morning at Holy Name Seminary honored the life and legacy of Bishop Robert Morlino. Morlino led the Diocese of Madison for 15 years.

"It was unexpected, so as all unexpected things, you're shocked," said Juan Landa, a parishioner and close friend of Morlino. "We immediately got to prayer, so our family got on our knees and started to pray."

Morlino was hospitalized on Wednesday, Nov. 21 after an apparent heart attack. He passed away late Saturday night.

Longtime friends and colleagues remembered him for his joyful personality.

"He had an amazing sense of humor, so he was always cracking jokes and telling stories about his time back in the dorms," said Justin Hineline, who considers Morlino a mentor.

"He spoke lovingly, he always told the truth but he said it with a smile," said Steve Statsick, a longtime friend of Morlino.

One of Morlino's priorities was bringing more men into the priesthood. As bishop, he ordained 40 new priests. Morlino also wanted to strengthen people's faith.

"A lot of younger Catholics especially are taking their faith much more seriously due to his involvement in our church," Hineline said.

Many remember the bishop as someone who spoke the truth and cared deeply about everyone in the diocese. Statsick said even in the face of criticism, Morlino stuck to what he believed the church taught.

"The church lost a great man today, but he was a wonderful priest and friend and leader and he'll be greatly missed, and we’re just going to go forth in prayer for the diocese and the repose of his soul," Statsick said.

Morlino's friends and parishioners said he has left behind a vision of Catholicism that is beautiful and true to its roots.