The next bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego may be a marathon runner.
A 47-year-old native of Pasadena, fluent in Spanish, moderate to conservative on theology. A former religion teacher in a Catholic high school, a former teacher, vice rector and dean of studies at a seminary in San Fernando. Known as informal, hard-working, affable.
Sources say Auxiliary Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the likely candidate to succeed San Diego Bishop Leo T. Maher. For two years, Ziemann has been responsible for church matters in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
On a recent trip to San Diego, Ziemann met with nuns and priests and toured the six-bedroom home in Kensington that is being purchased for Maher’s successor. Maher, bishop since 1969, will remain in the diocesan residence in Mission Hills.
By church rule, Maher must retire by July 1, 1990, when he turns 75, but earlier retirements are often arranged.
Maher and Monsignor I. Brent Eagen, who is also the diocese chancellor, are now at the Vatican. Final decision on a new bishop will be made by Pope John Paul II, based on recommendations of a selection committee and a papal representative in the United States.
Ziemann has degrees in philosophy and religion from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo and a master’s in education from Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles. He was an associate pastor in Huntington Beach, a religion teacher at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, and, from 1974 to 1987, served at Our Lady, Queen of the Angels Seminary in San Fernando.
He has run in the Los Angeles Marathon and puts a priority on programs for teen-agers and being “visible” in the community. He would be one of the youngest bishops in the United States.
The two other church officials said to have been in the running to succeed Maher were Bishop Michael Kenny of Juneau, Alaska, and Bishop John T. Steinbock of Santa Rosa in Northern California.
Kenny, 51, has outspoken views against nuclear weapons and favoring a reevaluation of the role of women in the church. He backed a controversial bishop in Seattle in a struggle with the Vatican.
Steinbock, also 51, has extensive experience in Spanish-speaking parishes in East Los Angeles and was an auxiliary bishop in Orange County. The position of auxiliary bishop is often a steppingstone within the church hierarchy.
Kenny and Steinbock said they had no inkling that they were considered for San Diego, but added that a bishop-designate often has no idea he is under consideration until he has been selected.
Kenny feels his own views are probably “too liberal” for San Diego, and Steinbock said the church would probably not transfer him after only two years in Santa Rosa.
Ziemann declined to be interviewed, although his departure to San Diego has been discussed by his parishioners for several weeks.
Spike That Punch Line
Now that La Jolla Country Day School has flip-flopped on firing Sharon Rogers, political humorist Mark Russell may have to amend his material.
He’s been telling audiences he feels terrible about Rogers being booted after her van was blown up. Punch line: “The ACLU should take up the case, but they’re probably out picketing the Easter Bunny.”
Who Invited Them?
Opponents of San Diego Gas & Electric’s proposed sellout to Southern California Edison complain that the two utilities have a headlock on the Legislature after years of stuffing legislators with campaign contributions, gifts, honorariums and other freebies.
On Tuesday, SDG&E; officials showed they can take it as well as dish it out.
The County Water Authority, which opposes the sellout and may try to buy SDG&E;, picked up the tab for a Sacramento breakfast hosted by the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce for the county’s legislative delegation. Only three of 11 legislators attended.
Among the guests eating courtesy of the water authority: SDG&E; lobbyists Jim Cassie and Buzz Schott.