Introducing San Diego’s New Auxiliary Bishop


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SAN DIEGO — The Vatican Press Office announced on April 19 that Pope Francis had appointed Father John P. Dolan as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of San Diego.

Bishop-Elect Dolan, the current pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Hillcrest, will take up his duties June 8, following his episcopal ordination at St. Therese of Carmel Parish in Del Mar.

Bishop Robert W. McElroy noted two central characteristics of Father Dolan’s priesthood: the great love which he has for the priests and the people of God, and the intensely joyful spirit that permeates his life and mission.

“Our Local Church,” Bishop McElroy said, “will be deeply blessed by these gifts in Bishop-Elect Dolan’s new episcopal role of leadership, sacrifice and prayerful service.”

Bishop McElroy’s comments came on the morning of the announcement, during Bishop-Elect Dolan’s introduction to staff and family at the diocesan Pastoral Center.

As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop-Elect Dolan will assist Bishop McElroy in the operation and management of the diocese and in the performance of sacramental duties, such as confirmations. Bishop McElroy remains in charge of the diocese.

Bishop-Elect Dolan begins his new duties at a time when the diocese is implementing innovative initiatives to strengthen local Catholic families and their communities. One of these grew out of a historic synod held last fall to develop ways to strengthen marriage and families and to welcome and support youth and young adults. Another offers leadership development opportunities for local Catholic school administrators, in partnership with the University of San Diego. And still another is providing vital resources to immigrants and refugees in light of changes at the federal level.

Bishop-Elect Dolan, 54, grew up in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego, and was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, 1989, by Bishop Leo T. Maher at San Rafael Parish in Rancho Bernardo. He is a near-fluent Spanish speaker.

One of nine children born to Gerald and Catherine Dolan, he was educated in local Catholic schools at St. Mary Magdalene Parish and University High School, before attending St. Francis Seminary and the University of San Diego, where he received a B.A. in Philosophy. He continued his studies at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, CA, where he earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree, along with a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology.

“I am profoundly grateful to his Holiness Pope Francis for this honor,” said Bishop-Elect Dolan. “I look forward to accompanying Bishop McElroy in his ministry to this beautiful diocese in which I have witnessed the presence of God’s love continually for the whole of my life.”

Bishop-Elect Dolan has served as a priest in the Diocese of San Diego for 27 years. He began as an associate at St. Michael Parish in Paradise Hills, before going on to Santa Sophia Parish in Spring Valley. He served 12 years as pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Chula Vista and five years as pastor at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Oceanside.

Most recently, he has served as Vicar for Clergy at the Pastoral Center, where he oversees the assignment of priests and clergy at the 98 parishes in the diocese and as pastor at St. John the Evangelist and St. Vincent de Paul parishes in Mission Hills/Hillcrest. He will continue in those roles.


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