After 19 Years, Diocese of Stockton Bishop Ready for ‘New Adventure’

STOCKTON -- For 19 years, Bishop Stephen Blaire has led the Diocese of Stockton's 35 parishes in six different counties.

"When I look back over these years, first of all, I think about the people, all the wonderful people I have worked with," Blaire said. "The priests, the deacons and their wives, and the people and their ministry and the parishioners."

Wednesday marksBlaire's last day in charge, with Bishop Myron Cotta set to officially take over on Thursday.

"I actually am relieved to be free of the burden of administration and all the bishops I know that are retired, they look so much younger. So I’m looking forward to that," Blaire said.

Blaire has been a bishop since 1990, when he served as an auxiliary bishop for Los Angeles. After turning 75, he submitted his letter of resignation and now, a year later, he is set to leave after guiding the diocese out of bankruptcy.

"It’s the faith of the people that makes the church to be alive," Blaire said.

Blaire’s move to bishop emeritus will keep him in the diocese, where he hopes to continue to help serve in many different capacities. But his retirement doesn’t come without its own challenge. Three weeks ago, Blaire’s left leg was amputated after multiple infections stemming from a broken leg in October.

"In a way, I’m kind of excited about this whole thing. It’s a new adventure," Blaire said.

Blaire hopes to have a prosthetic in the coming months, and though his prayers for healing weren’t answered the way he wanted, he’s thankful for the support he’s received on his journey to recovery.

"I think the test in our lives is to always keep our confidence in God, no matter what we go through. Indeed God responds, though not necessarily how we want," Blaire said. "Now after the amputation, I'm on my way to healing and so that is how God is answering my prayers. There have been so many prayers from the people. I've just been overwhelmed with the prayers of the people and good wishes."

Blaire is hopeful in the direction of the church and though he is giving up his seat from the past 19 years, he is ready to continue to serve the people he is so thankful for.