Early Life

Robert W. McElroy was born in San Francisco on February 5, 1954, to Walter and Roberta McElroy. A fifth generation San Franciscan, Bishop McElroy lived until he was ten years old in Daly City, attending Our Lady of Mercy Elementary School. His family then moved to Burlingame, where he and his three sisters and brother attended and graduated from Our Lady of Angels School.

McElroy Family Easter 1957
First Holy Communion


During his youth, Bishop McElroy felt called to the Catholic priesthood, and thus after eighth grade he entered St. Joseph High School in Mountain View, which was the high school seminary of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Upon graduating, Bishop McElroy was still committed to seeking a life in the priesthood but concluded that it would be best to pursue his vocation in a college outside the seminary system. Thus, in 1972 he entered Harvard College and graduated three years later with a bachelor’s degree in American history. Bishop McElroy attended graduate school at Stanford University and in 1976 received a master’s degree in American history and in 1989 a doctorate in Political Science.

In 1979, he was granted a master’s in Divinity (M.Div) at St. Patrick Seminary, and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley in 1985 and a doctorate in Moral Theology (STD) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1987.

Ordained A Priest

Reentering the seminary in the fall of 1976, Bishop McElroy attended St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California, and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco on April 12, 1980. His first assignment was St. Cecilia Parish in San Francisco, which was the parish where both of his parents had grown up and attended grammar school, and the church where they were married.

Parish Work

Parish work has always been his first love. In 1989, he served as parochial vicar at St. Pius Parish in Redwood City. 

In 1995 Archbishop Quinn appointed Bishop McElroy vicar general of the Archdiocese, a post he continued to hold under Cardinal William Levada, who succeeded Archbishop Quinn.

The following year, Bishop McElroy was made a prelate of honor by St. John Paul II and appointed pastor of St. Gregory Parish in San Mateo by Cardinal Levada. He had the immense happiness of serving in this same parish for more than 15 years.

New Priest

Auxiliary Bishop

Bishop McElroy was appointed auxiliary bishop of San Francisco by Pope Benedict XVI on July 6, 2010, and was ordained by Archbishop George Niederauer at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Sept. 7, 2010. He became the Archdiocesan Vicar for Parish Life and Development and served in that role until his appointment to be the sixth bishop of San Diego in March 2015.

Bishop of San Diego

When he was informed that Pope Francis had appointed him to be the sixth bishop of San Diego, Bishop McElroy said:

“When I was growing up, my family would come to San Diego for our summer vacation, and I was captivated by the beauty and vitality of this graced region. During my years as a priest and bishop, I have continually been struck by this same beauty and vitality in the life of the local church — proclaiming the Gospel, embracing the poor and the marginalized, strengthening family life, forging unity in faith and solidarity amidst great cultural diversity. Now I have the privilege of becoming a member and a leader in this magnificent Catholic community and the society which surrounds it. There are no words to describe the tremendous joy and gratitude to God which I feel at this moment.”

College of Cardinals

Pope Francis appointed Bishop McElroy to the College of Cardinals on May 29, 2022. Cardinal-Designate McElroy was installed in a consistory on Aug. 27 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He is a member of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

The Coat of Arms

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Ordained: April 12, 1980
Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco: July 6, 2010
Consecrated: September 7, 2010
Succeeded as Sixth Bishop of San Diego: March 3, 2015
Installed as Sixth Bishop of San Diego: April 15, 2015
Appointed to College of Cardinals: August 22, 2022


Harvard College, Bachelor of Arts, American History, 1975
Stanford University, Master of Arts, American History, 1976
St. Patrick Seminary, Master of Divinity (MDiv), 1979
Jesuit School of Theology, Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL), 1985
Gregorian University, Doctor of Moral Theology (STD), 1987
Stanford University, PhD in Political Science, 1989

“Father Bob.” Bishop Robert McElroy occasionally says that is his favorite title in his ministry.

Coat of Arms