San Francisco, Calif., May 3, 2017 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After battling lung disease, Archbishop Emeritus George H. Niederauer of San Francisco died May 2 at the age of 80 from pulmonary fibrosis. He had been in residence at the Nazareth House in San Rafael, 18 miles north of San Francisco.
Archbishop Niederauer “was known for his spiritual leadership, intelligence and wisdom, compassion and humor, and was always focused on his responsibility to live and teach the faith,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco stated. Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City echoed these sentiments, saying Archbishop Niederauer “was a great churchman, accepting each position he was given with humility and generosity.”
A California native, Archbishop Niederauer was born in Los Angeles on June 14, 1936 to George and Elaine Niederauer as their only child. He attended Catholic schools throughout his childhood education, and was accepted to Stanford University, where he attended college for one year before entering seminary at St. John’s in Camarillo. Archbishop Niederauer remained a scholar throughout his priestly formation and received a B.A. in philosophy and sacred theology, and a Master’s in English Literature from Loyola-Marymount University in L.A.
After his priestly ordination, he went on to receive a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Southern California. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles April 30, 1962 and served in various positions throughout his priesthood, including in parishes and at the seminary. He was named a Prelate of Honor by St. John Paul II in 1984, receiving the title Monsignor.
He was appointed Bishop of Salt Lake City in 1994, where he served for 11 years. “During his eleven years he was bishop of Salt Lake City, he was known for his kindness, ecumenical spirit and embrace for the least important of the community,” stated Bishop Solis.
In 2005, Benedict XVI appointed him the eighth Archbishop of San Francisco, where he would actively serve for the following six years. He retired in 2012 and moved to St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, where he put on retreats for priests and religious. In January 2017, he was moved to the Nazareth House after being diagnosed with interstitial lung disease.
Archbishop Cordileone included a quote from the late Archbishop Niederauer about his appointment as Archbishop of San Francisco. When he was choosing his coat of arms, Archbishop Niederauer chose the words ‘to serve and to give,’ as his motto. “I am convinced servant leadership in the Church defines the role of the bishop,” Archbishop Niederauer said during his installation Mass on Feb. 15, 2006. “Leading by serving: it’s easily misunderstood, but it seems central to me,” he continued.
A viewing service will be held for Archbishop Niederauer at St. Anne of the Sunset Church in San Francisco on May 11 at 3:30 PM, followed by a vigil at 6:30. The Mass of Christian Burial will take place on May 12 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco at 11 AM.
“It was with deep sadness that I learned of the death of a long-time friend and Ordination classmate, Archbishop George H. Niederauer. May God’s warm embrace encircle him unto eternal life,” stated Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles. Cardinal William Levada, Archbishop John Quinn, Bishop Bill Justice, Bishop Ignatius Wang, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone together requested prayers for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Niederauer.