A Joyful Spirit

Bishop John Dolan


This spring, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed Fr. John P. Dolan ’85 (BA) as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of San Diego; he took up his duties in June 2017. In this role, he will assist in diocese operation and management and in the performance of sacramental duties, such as confirmations.

Bishop Robert McElroy noted two central characteristics of Bishop 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 will be deeply blessed by these gifts in his new episcopal role of leadership, sacrifice and prayerful service,” McElroy said.

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 in fall 2016 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.

Dolan, 54, grew up in San Diego and was ordained on July 1, 1989 by Bishop Leo T. Maher. He was educated in local Catholic schools before attending St. Francis Seminary and USD, where he received an undergraduate degree in philosophy. He continued his studies at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Arts in theology.

“I am profoundly grateful to his Holiness Pope Francis for this honor,” said 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.”

Dolan has served as a priest in the Diocese of San Diego for 27 years. Most recently, he has served as vicar for clergy at the Pastoral Center, and as pastor at St. John the Evangelist and St. Vincent De Paul in Mission Hills/Hillcrest. — Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.

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