Funeral Mass for Bishop John Steinbock

FRESNO, Calif.

People packed St. John's Cathedral Monday night for a Vigil and Rosary remembering the life of Bishop John Steinbock.

"I was surprised to see how many people got here early. There were many priests that showed up. I'm assuming most were from out of the Diocese. I didn't recognize a lot," said mourner Alex Perez.

The highest ranking church official of the night was Cardinal Mahoney who made the trip from Los Angeles. He did not speak at the rosary, but he's expected to preside over Tuesday's funeral service.

Monsignor Patrick McCormick of Merced -- who will serve as master of ceremonies Tuesday -- says he admired Bishop Steinbock's talent to connect with people in a way even he couldn't. "He could meet someone at a parish like our parish at St. Patrick's and come to do conformation and then come back the next year to do confirmation and some people would go up to him and he would remember a lot of their names. Something I cannot do."

Bishop Steinbock's family sat in the front row for Monday night's services. Tuesday his brother, Reverend Leo Steinbock will be one of the pallbearers.

After the vigil service -- the church resumed public viewing hours late into the night for those hoping to see the bishop for perhaps the last time.

Many of the seats inside the church are reserved for visiting priests and dignitaries for Tuesday's service. There is a site here where the overflow crowd can watch the funeral mass.

Maroa between Bullard and Browning will be closed until at least 1:30 Tuesday. But drivers can also expect delays on the alternate routes including Bullard, Shaw and Blackstone Avenues.

Bishop Steinbock requested, instead of flowers, donations be sent to catholic charities in downtown Fresno. The bishop served as the President of the agency's Board of Directors and regularly attended meetings. The organization is open Tuesday because officials say that's what the Bishop would have wanted.

"He would not want us to stop serving...he wants us to go on and take care of the people he so loved. That is his way of assuring his legacy lives on and continuing to do his work from heaven... we are very blessed," said Kelly Lilles with Catholic Charities.

Officials say they've received several thousand dollars in donations on behalf of the Bishop.

You can send your donations to catholic charities at:

149 North Fulton Street
Fresno, CA 93701
Action News will bring you live coverage of the Bishop's Funeral Service. The ceremony beings at 10:30 a.m., followed by the burial at Saint Peter's Cemetery in Fresno County. Our live coverage of the events begins at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 and

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