Chicago Bishop-Elect Recovering from Brain Surgery

Update April 18:
The surgery was successful, and the consecration may be in June, the diocese announced.

By Kirk Petersen

The bishop-elect of the Diocese of Chicago is scheduled to have surgery on April 15 to address a rare but treatable condition that led to cerebral bleeding last weekend, the diocese announced.

Physicians at Alexian Brothers Hospital in Elk Grove Village, a Chicago suburb, will operate on the Rev. Paula Clark to remove an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), “an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins, which disrupts normal blood flow and oxygen circulation,” according to the Mayo Clinic. 

“Once diagnosed, a brain AVM can often be treated successfully to prevent or reduce the risk of complications,” the clinic says on its website.

The bishop-elect’s daughter, Micha Green, said her mother experienced a cerebral bleed while exercising on Saturday, April 10. She reported on Sunday that her mother was alert and “giving orders” in the hospital. She said the doctors had completed two successful embolization procedures.

“In endovascular embolization, your doctor inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) into a leg artery and threads it through blood vessels to your brain using X-ray imaging. Your surgeon positions the catheter in one of the feeding arteries to the AVM, and injects an embolizing agent, such as small particles or a glue-like substance, to block the artery and reduce blood flow into the AVM,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

The National Organization for Rare Disorders, a patient advocacy group, says AVM’s occur in about 10 out of every 100,000 people.

Clark is scheduled to be consecrated the XIII Bishop of Chicago on Saturday, April 24. The Standing Committee said it expects to announce any impact on the consecration on Friday, April 16. The Standing Committee currently is the ecclesiastical authority for the diocese, as Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee retired at the end of 2020. Lee is now serving on a half-time basis as the provisional bishop of Milwaukee.

Clark will be the first Black person and the first woman to lead the Diocese of Chicago, which encompasses Chicago and 21 counties in northern and west-central Illinois. The diocese has nearly 400 clergy, and 122 congregations. She was elected from a field of four candidates, all of them people of color, at a Zoom-enabled convention on December 12, 2020.


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