NEW YORK – Remembering Auxiliary Bishop Kevin Birmingham of Chicago after he died unexpectedly Oct. 2, Cardinal Blase Cupich called him “a wonderful priest and bishop,” with others also weighing in that he was a truly kind man that was dedicated to the Church.

“The Church has lost a wonderful priest and bishop today, and I lost a dear friend and valued colleague,” Cupich said in a statement. “From the start of his ministry, Bishop Kevin Birmingham was a devoted and joyful priest. He felt called to serve Latino Catholics especially, and he learned Spanish in order to do so.”

“He served in my office for six years as priest-secretary, always with dedication and attention to every detail, a role in which his reputation for kindness only grew,” Cupich continued. “May we honor his memory by continuing to do as he did, and model the love God has for his children in all we do.”

The archdiocese announced that Birmingham died on Oct. 2 from natural causes. He was 51 years old, a few days shy of his 52nd birthday, which would’ve been on Oct. 7.

Birmingham was appointed auxiliary bishop of Chicago and Titular Bishop of Dolia on Sept. 11, 2020. He was ordained a bishop on November 13 of that year, and became Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate IV. Last month, after the retirement of Bishop Joseph Perry, Birmingham was assigned to oversee Vicariate VI.

Birmingham was ordained to the priesthood on May 24, 1997. He then led a number of parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He also served as the administrative secretary to Cupich from 2014 to 2020, and he was then appointed director of the Department of Parish Vitality and Mission in July 2020 for a year. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo of Chicago said Birmingham was always a joy to be with.

“He was dedicated to God and the Church and always had a very joyful spirit,” Lombardo said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed.”

Sarah Machaj, an administrative assistant in the archdiocese who worked with Birmingham from 2015-2020, said that Birmingham “lit up every room he walked into.”

“Bishop Kevin lit up every room he walked into and brought with him his dry wit and just a little bit of mischief,” Machaj said in a statement. “He was an incredibly hard worker, but never asked for recognition. He was humble, truly kind and had a laugh that was contagious. He was the most genuine person I’ve ever known, and he will be greatly missed.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said that it joins Cupich in prayer for the repose of the soul of their brother bishop. The archdiocese said funeral arrangements and details are forthcoming.

Requiescat in pace (rest in peace),” the USCCB said in a statement.

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