S.D. native named to auxiliary bishop post

Cordileone, 46, will return to Roman Catholic Diocese here

By Sandi Dolbee


San Diego Union-Tribune

July 6, 2002

A 46-year-old San Diego native who has spent the last seven years with the Vatican's judicial court has been named an auxiliary bishop to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, joining Bishop Robert Brom and Auxiliary Bishop Gilbert Chavez as spiritual leaders of more than 900,000 Catholics in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Monsignor Salvatore J. Cordileone was visiting his family here on vacation when he learned of the appointment, which was announced yesterday by Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the pope's ambassador to the United States.

"I'm still trying to get over the initial shock," Cordileone said yesterday.

"I would say it came as a surprise to me, but I'm looking forward to serving in pastoral ministry once again in the Diocese of San Diego."

Brom welcomed the appointment, saying in a statement that the rapid growth of the Catholic population here, along with the cultural diversity, "has resulted in growing demands for the episcopal ministry." Auxiliary bishops assist the resident bishop.

The number of Catholics in San Diego and Imperial counties, which make up the local diocese, has doubled since 1978, according to the statement. This is the fourth largest diocese in California, with 98 parishes, 16 missions and about 250 priests.

Several dioceses and archdioceses in the country have multiple auxiliary bishops, although in this state, only the Archdiocese of Los Angeles currently has more than one, according to a directory published earlier this year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There are 90 auxiliary bishops in the United States.

Cordileone's roots run deep in San Diego. He went to Crawford High School, San Diego State University, the University of San Diego and St. Francis Seminary here. He also attended the North American Pontifical College in Vatican City, considered the church's most prestigious school for selected seminarians.

After he was ordained in 1982, Cordileone served for three years as an associate pastor at St. Martin of Tours in La Mesa and then returned to Rome to get a doctorate in canon law.

After that, Cordileone served as an assistant to Brom. In 1991, he went to Calexico to be pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church. An expert in canon law, he was tapped in 1995 to serve at the Vatican as a member of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial court of the Catholic Church.

Cordileone plans to return briefly to Rome to finish up some business. His episcopal ordination is set for Aug. 21 at the Immaculata on the USD campus.

But before he leaves for Rome, he will have a special homecoming. Tomorrow, Cordileone will celebrate the 10:45 a.m. Mass at Blessed Sacrament, the College Area church where he was baptized, took his first Communion, was confirmed and said his first Mass.


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