The Diocese of Stockton will soon be guided by a new bishop who has roots in Merced County.
On Tuesday, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Myron Cotta to succeed Bishop Stephen Blaire as Bishop of the Diocese of Stockton. Blaire submitted his resignation to Pope Francis when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 on Dec. 22, 2016.
Bishop Cotta, 64, was born of Portuguese heritage in Dos Palos and grew up on a dairy farm. He attended public and Catholic schools in Dos Palos and graduated from Dos Palos High School. He later attended West Hills Junior College and entered St. John’s College Seminary in Camarillo, Calif., in 1980 to finish his undergraduate studies and continued at the major seminary, where he finished his theological studies and received his master’s degree in divinity. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Fresno on Sept. 12, 1987.
His parish assignments included: St. Anthony, Atwater; the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Laton; and the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles, Gustine. From July 1999 until his appointment to the Diocese of Sacramento, he served the Diocese of Fresno as vicar general, moderator of the curia, vicar for clergy, director of continuing education of the clergy, supervisor of the Safe Environment Program and director of the Propagation of the Faith. He was named Chaplain to His Holiness on March 23, 2002 and Prelate of Honor in January 2009.
Upon the death of Bishop John Steinbock of Fresno on Dec. 5, 2010, Bishop Cotta was elected by the Diocesan College of Consultors as the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Fresno. He served as administrator from Dec. 7, 2010 until Feb. 1, 2012, when Bishop Armando Ochoa assumed leadership of the Diocese of Fresno.
“As a native son of the Central Valley he knows the area very well and in turn is well known for his pastoral leadership,” said Diocese of Stockton spokesman Joseph Dondero in a news release.
He served as Vicar General in the Diocese of Fresno where he was a priest and most recently served as Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Sacramento.
Bishop Cotta will be installed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese on Thursday, March 15. Until that date, Bishop Blaire will serve as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese.
The Diocese of Stockton encompasses more than 10,000 square miles covering the counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mono, and Alpine, with a diverse Catholic population of over 300,000 people. Locally, the Diocese oversees All Saints University Parish, Sacred Heart Church, and Our Lady of the Assumption of the Portuguese Church, all in Turlock, and St. Anthony’s Church in Hughson. It also includes Sacred Heart’s Turlock schools.