Past Bishops

The Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop John Charles Wester was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco on May 15, 1976. After his priestly ordination, many facets of ministry in the Church followed in the Bay Area that included assignments as an associate pastor, pastor, high school faculty member, director of campus ministry, high school president, assistant superintendent for high schools, and administrative assistant to Archbishop John R. Quinn. On July 25, 1997, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, named Reverend Wester a Prelate of Honor, giving him the title of Monsignor. He then served as the vicar for clergy in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. In 1998, Monsignor Wester was ordained auxiliary bishop of San Francisco and appointed to serve as the vicar general. On January 8, 2007, he was named Bishop of Salt Lake City and installed on March 14, 2007. His kind and giving spirit reflects his Episcopal motto: Abide in Christ.

The Most Reverend George H. Niederauer, Ph.D.

Before being named eighth bishop of Salt Lake City on November 3, 1994, George H. Niederauer had spent virtually his entire life in Los Angeles, California, where he was born on June 14, 1936.  Educated in Catholic schools and at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1962.  A scholar of English literature, he earned a Master’s degree in that field from Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1962 and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1966, specializing in Restoration drama.  Most of his priestly ministry was as a seminary teacher back at St. John’s until he was installed as Bishop of Salt Lake City on January 25, 1995.  Salt Lake City achieved worldwide recognition in 2002 when it hosted the winter Olympics.  Bishop Neiderauer and his staff were heavily occupied in making religious services and facilities available.  Perhaps his most conspicuous achievement, though, was the opening in 1993 of the Skaggs Catholic Center in Draper, and immense and impressively equipped parochial school funded by Sam and Aline Skaggs.  Bishop Niederauer was called to be Archbishop of San Francisco on February 15, 2006, from which he retired on October 4, 2012.  He died on May 2, 2017. 

The Most Reverend William K. Weigand

Born in Bend, Oregon in 1937 and ordained for the Diocese of Boise on May 25, 1963 by Bishop Sylvester Treinen, Father Weigand had extensive experience living in and ministering to rural parishes.  Bishop Treinen, who encouraged his priests to become fluent in the Spanish language to minister in those rural areas, sent Father Weigand to Cali, Columbia to hone his Spanish skills.  He spent some nine years there before returning to the parish of Homedale, Idaho.  From there he became Bishop of Salt Lake City on November 17, 1980.  Among his achievements were the expansion of the programs of Catholic Community Services, including construction of the Weigand Resource Center on Rio Grande Avenue, creation of the Catholic Foundation of Utah, a multimillion dollar endowment for a wide variety of diocesan and parish programs, and most conspicuously the $10.4 million interior renovation of the Cathedral.  Bishop Weigand was installed as Bishop of Sacramento on January 27, 1994, from which he retired on November 29, 2008. 

The Most Reverend Joseph Lennox Federal

After Bishop Steck’s death, Bishop Hunt’s eyesight continued to deteriorate, and the need for an Auxiliary remained acute.  A southerner, Joseph L. Federal, was tapped for the job.  Born in North Carolina on January 20, 1910 and ordained in Rome in 1934, he distinguished himself in ministering to rural parishes in his native state and was named rector of the cathedral in Raleigh in 1938.  He became Auxiliary to Bishop Hunt in 1951 and named Co-adjutor with right of succession in 1958.  When he became Ordinary of the diocese in 1960, he began a decade of extraordinary activity.  One development was implementing the reforms of Vatican II, which he attended in all four sessions.  During the 1970s he oversaw the exterior renovation of the Cathedral, which had fallen into dangerous disrepair.  Also, he created the Diocesan Development Drive, the first systematic fund-raising mechanism for the diocese, and in 1976 he ordained the first class of Permanent Deacons.  He retired in 1980 and died on August 31, 2000.

The Most Reverend Duane G. Hunt

Duane Garrison Hunt was born September 19, 1884 to a Methodist family in Reynolds, Nebraska.  He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Methodist Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. While in college he experienced doubts about the Protestant faith of his youth and began investigating Catholicism.  At first attempting to refute Catholicism, he became instead convinced of its truth and was baptized in Chicago in 1913.  From 1913-16 he served as Professor of Speech at the University of Utah, but he left that to be ordained by Bishop Joseph S. Glass on June 27, 1920, the first ordination to take place in the Cathedral of the Madeleine. When Bishop John J. Mitty took over the nearly bankrupt diocese in 1926, Hunt became his indispensable assistant.  Mitty recognized his unique academic background and talents and placed him in charge of The Intermountain Catholic and assigned him to give weekly radio broadcasts on KSL called the Utah Catholic Hour.  A prolific writer, he wrote a long series of books and pamphlets explaining and defending the Catholic faith and issued the texts of his radio broadcasts as pamphlets. On October 28, 1937, Archbishop John J. Mitty of San Francisco consecrated his one-time assistant as Fifth Bishop of Salt Lake City in the Cathedral of the Madeleine.  When Bishop Hunt died on March 31, 1960, he had served longer than any other bishop that Bishop Scanlan. 

The Most Reverend James E. Kearney

Bishop Kearney’s personality was almost the complete antithesis of that of his predecessor.  Drawing upon his Irish heritage, he always had a song, a story or a poem on the tip of his tongue, often delivering them in the midst of a homily.  Although he was born in Iowa in 1884, his family moved to New York City when he was two years of age and he considered himself a New Yorker.  He was consecrated Bishop of Salt Lake on October 28, 1932.  Although his tenure as bishop was even briefer than Bishop Mitty’s, he succeeded in completing his predecessor’s great task of getting the diocese out of debt and on solid financial ground.  That he accomplished that by 1936, during the depth of the Great Depression, is a remarkable achievement.  When he was installed as Bishop of Rochester, New York on November 11, 1937, he left behind a record as one of our most beloved bishops.

The Right Reverend John J. Mitty

Born in Greenwich Village on January 20, 1884, John J. Mitty was the first of two consecutive New Yorkers to have served as Bishop of Salt Lake.  Orphaned at age ten, he and his two brothers spent difficult childhoods in foster homes, which may partly account for Bishop Mitty’s disciplined and demanding personality.  His service as a chaplain in Europe in World War I gave him a military bearing that carried over into his ecclesiastical style.  Upon his ordination as Bishop of Salt Lake on September 8, 1926 he understood that he had been sent here for a purpose: to rescue the diocese from the financial malaise that Bishop Glass’s spending had created.  By the time he was installed as Co-adjutor Archbishop of San Francisco on February 4, 1932, his sometimes harsh methods had accomplished just that, and paved the way for achievement of complete solvency under his successor.

The Right Reverend Joseph S. Glass, C.M.

Born in Illinois on March 13, 1874 and educated in Missouri and Los Angeles, Joseph Glass was ordained in 1898 for the Vincentian Order (Congregation of the Mission), our only bishop to date to have been a member of a religious order.  While serving as a priest and college professor in Los Angeles, he became intimate with the family of wealthy oilman Edward L. Doheny, whose wife he baptized and whose financial support he enjoyed for the rest of his life.  Ordained Bishop of Salt Lake on August 24, 1915, he set out almost immediately to plan the redecoration of the Cathedral interior, the work for which he is best known.  Less well known is that he was a tireless traveler with a driving concern to establish missions and parishes in rural Utah wherever he could find a sufficient number of Catholics and recruit a priest.  Bishop Glass died on January 26, 1926.

The Right Reverend Lawrence Scanlan

Lawrence Scanlan was born in County Tipperary, Ireland on September 28, 1843.  Trained at All Hallows College, Dublin, he was ordained in 1868 for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, one of many missionary priests who would minister to the Irish who fled the Emerald Isle in the wake of the Potato Famine.  After a brief stay in northern California, he was sent to the rough mining town of Pioche, Nevada.  In 1873 he took over St. Mary Magdalen parish in Salt Lake City and became the first bishop of the diocese in 1891.  Ambitious and energetic, he created parishes from Ogden to Silver Reef and from Park City to Ely, Nevada, as well as the Cathedral of the Madeleine, All Hallows College, St. Ann Orphanage and Holy Cross Hospital, assisted in many endeavors by the Holy Cross Sisters.  After a long period of physical decline, he died at Holy Cross Hospital on May 10, 1915.

The Most Reverend Leo J. Steck

Throughout most of his life, Bishop Hunt had suffered from poor eyesight.  By the late 1940s the problem had gotten serious enough that his effectiveness as bishop was threatened, so he asked for and received an Auxiliary Bishop in the form of Leo J. Steck of St. Louis.  Steck was born in St. Louis in 1898 and ordained in 1924.  He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop on May 20, 1948.  A very warm person with a vibrant sense of humor, Bishop Steck was widely loved.  Bishop Hunt had hoped to employ Bishop Steck as a fund-raiser among well-to-do eastern dioceses, but early on during his first trip, he became ill in St. Louis and died on June 19, 1950.  Bishop Hunt thus outlived the man who was to be his replacement.