Western Dominican Named Auxiliary Bishop

The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Robert Francis Christian, O.P., as auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. Fr. Robert is the first Dominican from the west to be made a bishop since Joseph Alemany, O.P., was made the first Archbishop of San Francisco in 1850.

“This appointment is a recognition of Fr. Robert’s deep love for Christ and the Church, and also a recognition of the Order’s deep roots in the Church in the Bay Area,” said Fr. Mark Padrez, O.P., Prior Provincial of the Western Dominican Province.

The Bishop-Elect is a native San Franciscan and has a great love and zeal for his hometown. He graduated from two Bay Area schools – St. Ignatius High School in 1966 and Santa Clara University in 1970.

Bishop-Elect Christian entered the Novitiate for the Western Dominican Province in 1970, and was ordained to the Priesthood in 1976. Following ordination, he served as a teacher at Dominican College of San Rafael, at the Catholic Newman Center at the University of California in Riverside, then at the Newman Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, and later as Socius (assistant) to the Provincial.

However, his longest ministry has been as a distinguished professor of theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – the Angelicum – in Rome, where Fr. Robert earned his Doctorate in Theology in 1986. His most recent ministry since 2015 has been as Master of Students at St. Albert’s Priory, the Western Dominican Province House of Studies in Oakland, CA.

Upon his election as auxiliary bishop, Fr. Robert commented on his enthusiasm and joy in returning to San Francisco. However, Fr. Robert also expressed that having to leave religious life to take up his new office was bittersweet.

“I thrive in Dominican community with its rhythms of prayer, recreation, shared decision-making, and shared commitment to preaching the Truth. Being a bishop means giving up many dimensions of community life, even though it also makes possible a deeper engagement in preaching and in being an agent of mercy. This last point was made to me by
the Dominican Master of the Order himself,” said Fr. Robert.

A Dominican for 48 years, Fr. Robert has been faithful to his call as a zealous and effective preacher of the Gospel. His role of preaching has been nourished by his study, prayer, and community life.

As a faithful Dominican, he has committed himself to Christ and His Church – knowing that clarity in doctrine and teaching is absolutely necessary in proclaiming Truth, especially in our confused age of spiritual and intellectual poverty. This Truth is rooted in the Love of Christ for the salvation of souls.

We sincerely appreciate all who have offered their prayers and support to Bishop-Elect Christian.

Congratulations, Bishop-Elect Christian!
Ad multos annos!

UPDATE: The Episcopal Ordination of Fr. Robert Francis Christian, O.P., as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco will be at 11:00am on Tuesday, June 5 at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption (1111 Gough Street). The event can be watched live on YouTube or on the Archdiocese's website.