The Rev. Monsignor Myron J. Cotta of Fresno said he is grateful Pope Francis has found special favor with him.
The pope on Friday promoted Cotta, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno for 26 years, as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento. Cotta takes office after his ordination March 25.
The Diocese of Fresno held a news conference Monday, when many staff members and friends attended in a show of appreciation for Cotta.
"It's very humbling to be called to this capacity," Cotta said. "As bishop, it brings a sense of fullness to the priesthood."
In Roman Catholicism, the progression of clergy members now is from priest to bishop to archbishop to cardinal to pope.
Cotta will perform all the duties of bishop while serving as assistant to Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento, which covers about 42,000 square miles and serves more than 900,000 Catholics with 102 parishes.
While working in the Diocese of Fresno, Cotta has served as vicar general for the past 15 years. After the death of Bishop John T. Steinbock on Dec. 5, 2010, he stepped up to lead the Fresno diocese for about 14 months until Armando X. Ochoa became the bishop.
Cotta said he is looking forward to the transition when he assists Soto and works with staff members in the Sacramento diocese.
"I will be experiencing a lot of what I'm doing now," Cotta said. "I look forward to working in union with the clergy, the religious, the laity and the church. Let us keep ourselves in prayer."
Ochoa praised Cotta for his work with the Fresno diocese.
"His administrative skills and pastoral presence have been a blessing," Ochoa said. "It'll be a great loss."
The staff members and friends at the news conference showed their appreciation by giving Cotta a standing ovation.
"He's a holy priest," said Cheryl Sarkisian, manager of the diocese's safe environment program. "He has a love for God and God's people. He serves with truth and sincerity. I've felt he's authentic, the real thing. He's so well-respected."
David Austin, coordinator of the diocese's grants and major gifts program, stood in line to hug Cotta.
"He's always been available," Austin said. "He is patient and willing to listen and to assist with guidance to help with the issue at hand. Those skills will serve him well in Sacramento."
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