George Niederauer was born June 14, 1936 in Los Angeles, California, the only child of George and Elaine Niederauer. He attended St. Catherine’s Military Academy in Anaheim, California from 1946 to 1950, then St. Anthony High School as a classmate of Cardinal William Levada, graduating in 1954. He began freshmen year of college at Stanford University then changed course and decided to enter St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, where he earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree. He further completed his studies with a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from Loyola University, Los Angeles in 1962. He also earned a Ph.D. in English Literature at University of Southern California in 1966.
Fr. Niederauer was ordained to the priesthood on April 30, 1962 for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. From 1962 to 1963, he was assistant pastor for Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Claremont, California. Throughout his ministry, he was an instructor of English literature and spiritual theology at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Los Angeles and St. John’s Seminary.
From 1979-1987, he was Spiritual Director at St. John’s Seminary. In 1984, he was raised to the rank of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness. On November 3, 1996, he was appointed the eighth Bishop of Salt Lake City by Pope John Paul II. Bishop Niederauer received his episcopal consecration on January 25, 1995 from Cardinal Roger Mahony, with Archbishop William Levada and Bishop Tod David Brown serving as co-consecrators.
On December 15, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI named him to succeed William Levada as the eighth Archbishop of San Francisco, following Archbishop Levada's appointment to Pope Benedict's former post of Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in the Roman Curia. Archbishop Niederauer served as the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Communication, and as a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Archbishop Niederauer published one work: Precious as Silver: Imagining Your Life with God (Ave Maria Press, 2003), which explores biblical images of Christian life and reflects on spirituality centered on Jesus.
His hobbies included enjoying classical music, stamp collecting, reading, and film appreciation.
Archbishop Niederauer passed away on May 2, 2017, after a long illness. He is laid to rest at Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma. Memorial Page
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Chronology of Significant Events
Date of Birth: June 14, 1936, Los Angeles, California
Ordained a Priest: April 30, 1962, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Appointed a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor): 1984
Appointed Eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City: November 3, 1994
Ordained Bishop: January 25, 1995 by Cardinal Roger Mahony
Appointed Eighth Archbishop of San Francisco: December 15, 2005
Installed Archbishop of San Francisco: February 15, 2006
Retired: July 27, 2012
Died: May 2, 2017