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Amid stroke recovery, San Diego bishop now being treated for cancer

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San Diego

The San Diego diocese announced Monday that Bishop Cirilo Flores, still recovering from an April stroke, is now being treated for prostate cancer.

Flores, 66, is being treated at Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said the statement Monday by Msgr. Steven Callahan, diocesan vicar general. The statement was a message sent to priests of the diocese that day and later released to the press.

"While still dealing with some of the aftereffects of the stroke he suffered in April, [the bishop] is presently being treated for prostate cancer, the full extent of which is yet to be determined," said the statement.

Callahan said "priests and people should not try to contact Bishop Flores by phone nor attempt to visit him at this time."

He said he and retired Bishop Robert Brom would be going to Los Angeles "to personally assure Bishop Flores of our prayerful support." He asked people to keep Flores in their prayers. The statement noted that the information about Flores had come through Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.

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Flores had a stroke April 16 and was hospitalized until May 3, according to The Southern Cross, newspaper of the San Diego diocese. He had initially been recovering at his home in the North Claremont area of San Diego, the paper reported.

But in early August, he told his priests he had decided to continue treatment in Los Angeles, under the hospitality of Gomez. The Southern Cross carried a story about a letter he sent Aug. 8 to the priests of the diocese, updating them on his condition. It did not mention cancer.

"As part of the process of ongoing recovery from the stroke I had in mid-April," Flores wrote in his letter, "I have concluded that it would be good for me to spend some time at the rectory of Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, where I can receive continuing treatment and support."

In an Aug. 6 phone interview with The Southern Cross, Flores said the prayers and well-wishes have comforted him throughout the recovery process.

"That's what's keeping me going," he said. The paper noted that many people in the diocese, "including many on the Pastoral Center staff," had not seen him since his stroke.

The paper said even though his doctors advised him not to return immediately to work at the diocesan offices or to celebrate public liturgies, Flores has done his best to remain connected through his new Twitter account.

Among his recent tweets was this one from June 23: "Dear Friends, receive my blessing & gratitude 4 all the Masses, prayers, msgs & signs of care & concern I've received. I hope 2 b w/u soon."

Flores became bishop of San Diego in September 2013, when Brom retired at age 75. Flores had been an auxiliary bishop of Orange, Calif., since 2009, and was named coadjutor in San Diego in January 2012, automatically succeeding Brom.

A native of Corona, Calif., Flores graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and earned a law degree from Stanford University. He practiced law for 10 years before entering St. John Seminary in Camarillo to study for the priesthood. He was ordained for the Orange diocese in 1991.

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