Bishop John Steinbock

Most Rev. John T. Steinbock, Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, was named the 2003 recipient of the Calegari Award at the 10th Annual Conference of the California Association of Natural Family Planning held at the Fresno Convention Center on March 22, 2003. The 125 members of the California Association of Natural Family Planning in attendance at the banquet enthusiastically applauded a surprised Bishop Steinbock as he humbly accepted the award from Dr. Gregory Polito, Immediate Past President of CANFP. Dr. Polito presented Bishop Steinbock with a beautiful Lladro art piece depicting a husband and wife surrounded by their children, provided by an anonymous donor, which the Bishop said will serve as “a reminder of the beauty and wonder of the Christian family that lives in accordance with God’s will and love.”

Bishop Steinbock was recognized for a lifetime of courageous and faithful leadership, and specifically for two significant contributions he has made this past year:

1) A Pastoral Letter Life Giving Love of Husband and Wife in Light of the Teaching of the Church on Marriage and the Family, and

2) A Convocation for the Clergy of the Diocese of Fresno, attended by 130 clergy: God’s Design for Married Love.

In his pastoral letter, Bishop Steinbock recognizes “The church must be at the forefront not only of proclaiming the dignity and permanence of marriage, but also of speaking about and explaining Natural Family Planning,” and the Bishop has added greatly to our understanding of the importance and urgency of this in his thirteen page pastoral. He recognizes the obstacles, and the crucial role of clergy in overcoming them, stating in his pastoral “it is the responsibility of the priest in each parish to take a leadership role in teaching the people entrusted to his care this teaching of the Church, which can enable couples to be faithful till death”. Recognizing the clergy are on the front lines of this issue, Bishop Steinbock engaged the services of CANFP to provide them with 4 days of education on God’s Design for Married Love because “priests are also the ones who have to encourage with pastoral care and love couples as they struggle to live by the teaching of the Church regarding true conjugal love in the midst of a society that scorns any vision of sexuality apart from an unrestrained and autonomous understanding”. Bishop Steinbock showed great insight into the dynamic of the role of NFP in marrage, explaining “Natural Family Planning is not simply an effective and medically healthy means for the spacing of children. It is a way of life that enables husband and wife to base their relationship on the truth of God’s life-giving love.”