Bishop McElroy

Robert Cardinal McElroy

Birth Date: February 5, 1954
birthplace: San Francisco, Calif.
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: May 29, 2022
Installed to College of Cardinals: Aug. 27, 2022


Robert W McElroy was born in San Francisco on February 5, 1954, to Walter and Roberta McElroy, who now reside in Santa Rosa, California. 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.


During these years Bishop McElroy felt called to the Catholic priesthood, and thus after eighth grade he entered Saint Joseph High School in Mountain View, which was the high school seminary of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Upon graduating from Saint Joseph, 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 degree in American history. After his graduation from Harvard, Bishop McElroy attended graduate school at Stanford and in 1976 received a master’s degree in American history.


Reentering the seminary in the Fall of 1976, Bishop McElroy attended Saint Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese on April 12, 1980. His first assignment was Saint 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.


In 1982 Bishop McElroy became the secretary to San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn, who himself was a former auxiliary bishop of San Diego. Archbishop Quinn asked Father McElroy to undertake graduate studies in the field of Catholic Social Teaching, and thus Bishop McElroy obtained a licentiate in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, a doctorate in moral theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in political science from Stanford.


Bishop McElroy returned to Parish work, which has always been his first love, in 1989 serving as a parochial vicar at Saint 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.


In 1996 Bishop McElroy was made a prelate of honor by Saint John Paul II and appointed Pastor of Saint Gregory Parish in San Mateo by Cardinal Levada. Bishop McElroy had the immense happiness of serving in this same parish for more than fifteen years.


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 Saint Mary’s Cathedral on September 7, 2010. He became the Archdiocesan Vicar for Parish Life and Development and has served in that role until his appointment to be the next Bishop of San Diego.


Bishop McElroy has written two books: The Search for an American Public Theology and Morality and American Foreign Policy. In addition, he has written a series of articles in America magazine touching upon key elements of Catholic social teaching.


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.


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.”


Bishop McElroy is a member of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

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