Cardinal Roger M. Mahony did not rise to archbishop of Los Angeles--where Mass is celebrated every Sunday in 42 languages and the Roman Catholic flock grows by 1,000 each week--at the age of 49 without arousing suspicions, bruising egos and making enemies.
It is a lesson Mahony learned early on.
On his first major assignment in the 1960s as director of Catholic Charities in Fresno, the high-energy, newly ordained priest was branded a pretentious upstart by the old guard when he insisted on automating the office with clumsy refrigerator-sized computers.
Mahony was convinced that the punch-card machines would make his job easier, but they were an unwelcome and--he now admits--inefficient novelty at a time when computers were often perceived as unwieldy and threatening.
“It is better to get something done and take the risk of being criticized,” a defiant Mahony confided to his seminary friend, George Niederauer, at the time. “If you sit around and do nothing, people criticize you for being lazy. If you try to accomplish something, people are going to call you an empire builder.”
It would be an oft-repeated refrain for the Hollywood-born priest, whose whirlwind 30-year ministry has taken him from a tiny Chinese-American parish on the outskirts of Fresno to the College of Cardinals in Rome, with numerous high-profile stops along the way.
For the past seven years, Mahony has served as the ubiquitous spiritual leader of the nation’s most populous archdiocese, attracting adoration and some disdain across his three-county see, which includes 3 million Catholics in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
“He hit the ground running when he got to Los Angeles, and he just doesn’t slow down,” said Father Christian Van Liefde, chairman of the archdiocese’s Council of Priests. “He is so committed and so intense it is like a steamroller.”
But for some priests, Liefde said, “it is like: ‘Hey, wait a second. Put it in neutral for a minute. I need to say something.”’
In 1967, when Pope Paul VI named Mahony a chaplain to His Holiness, with the title of reverend monsignor, the young priest--only 31 and just five years ordained--was scorned as an ambitious climber by some envious, older priests who had been passed over for the ceremonial honor, usually reserved for more senior clergy.
As an auxiliary bishop in the 1970s, he worked with Cesar Chavez to help migrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley organize for better wages and benefits, forever branding him an enemy of ranchers and growers who resented his meddling. Then Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. responded by naming him to the state Agricultural Relations Board, but his foes reacted by closing their wallets. The results were devastating, with church donations from growers in some parts of the valley only now rebounding to pre-Mahony levels.
When Mahony moved to Stockton as bishop in 1980, he was received suspiciously by some as an outsider and short-timer, even though many priests and residents had long yearned for an activist bishop in his mold. He was perceived by some as a caretaker, an archbishop in waiting, someone intent on being noticed by Rome despite his tiny backwater of a diocese with only 140,000 Catholics.
While presiding over a region consumed by fruit and cattle, he found time to write a pastoral letter on nuclear weapons, travel to refugee camps in Cambodia and take on the Border Patrol for its treatment of illegal immigrants.
Longtime priests said he pumped new energy into the sleepy diocese--he launched a number of programs--but he also oversaw the most frenetic period in memory. Some were not sorry to see him leave.
“I wonder that we might not all have been a bit jealous,” conceded Father Lawrence McGovern, who lived with Mahony in Stockton and served as one of his top administrators for more than four years. “Did we all find ourselves caught up a little short and we didn’t like that?”
It took just five years before Mahony received word one afternoon while vacationing at his cabin near Yosemite National Park: Pope John Paul II had appointed him archbishop of Los Angeles.
“I like to set goals, priorities and get things done,” said Mahony, reflecting on his management style. “My bent is much more to try different things. We have been so fail-safe prone (as a church), that it has inhibited us trying new . . . approaches.”
To hear Mahony tell his life’s story, the progression from Fresno pastor to Los Angeles prelate was one surprise after another, an unfolding tale orchestrated by the Lord Himself, with its lead character never consulted. Challenge him on the improbability of such a version, and Mahony protests: He wanted--and still wants--nothing more than to be a simple parish priest, the friendly father who celebrates Mass, baptizes babies, marries parishioners and presides at funerals.
“I could walk out of here and into a parish rectory with the greatest joy tomorrow morning and never miss one single thing,” Mahony said from his quarters at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. “If we are really open to what the Lord asks of us, it often times takes different twists of the road and leads to directions we haven’t chosen or wouldn’t necessarily choose.
“I am most at peace and most content following the lead of the Lord in my life. If you try to fiddle with that, you end up messing it all up, and you wind up very unhappy.”
Yet some colleagues just do not buy it.
“I don’t like to shock you in saying that there are some political aspects in these appointments,” said Msgr. James Cain, Mahony’s right-hand man in Stockton. “Is the best attorney appointed the judge? Is the best police captain always appointed the chief? There is a political element involved in the thing.”
In the case of Mahony’s appointment to Los Angeles, the connection was retiring Los Angeles Cardinal Timothy Manning, whose friendship with Mahony dated to the late 1960s when Manning was bishop of Fresno and Mahony was diocesan director of charities and social work there.
It was an open secret in church circles in 1985 that Manning favored Mahony as his successor, and he is credited with having influenced the Pope’s decision. In contrast to Manning’s low profile and modest pastoral manner, Mahony was seen as a mover-and-shaker--someone not unlike Pope John Paul II--who was willing to address publicly the range of moral and political issues facing Los Angeles.
It was that dynamism that made him an early darling among many priests who revered the aging Manning but feared that the archdiocese had stagnated toward the end of his tutelage. It did not take long before Mahony’s more aggressive stewardship was also raising eyebrows.
“He is a very good archbishop,” said Father John Keese, former chairman of the Council of Priests. “But that certainly doesn’t mean that we always agree with him.”
To focus on Mahony’s connections and personal ambition misses the real Mahony in a way that trivializes and demeans his deeply spiritual self, his friends say. Mahony prays at least three times a day, including an hour before dawn (it is the only time his personal assistant has been instructed never to interrupt him). Those who know him well, even some of his detractors, say the cardinal derives his intense energy and strength from a profound spirituality.
“His faith is paramount and his dedication to God and church are always evident,” said Father Lawrence Estrada, a Pasadena priest who served as Mahony’s personal assistant until 1989. “He is not just a business person. There is a very large God dimension to what he does. There is a faith commitment.”
Benita Cruz, a longtime housekeeper at St. John’s Cathedral in Fresno, praised Mahony as “very religious and pious” and said he developed a special relationship with many of the parish’s poorest members. Cruz, a great-grandmother who recently retired from St. John’s, proudly displays a letter of congratulations from Mahony on her living room wall.
“He used to take communion to the sick every Friday,” she recalled. “I remember my mother used to say that whenever he took communion to her, it was not a priest, it was God. It was the way he used to talk to her.”
Each day just before noon, Mahony takes five minutes to read from his prayer book, often pacing alone in his office or joining his staff down the hallway. Typically after a long day of appointments away from the chancery, Mahony and his assistant, Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik, unwind by reciting the rosary as they motor toward downtown, never exceeding 59 m.p.h., always hugging one of the slow lanes.
When Mahony is not praying, the front seat of his donated 1992 Oldsmobile serves as a mobile office, complete with a cellular telephone (he calls in accidents to radio traffic reporters); Dictaphone (on this evening, he dictated two letters of sympathy, a letter to the Dodgers accepting complimentary tickets, one confirming an upcoming appointment and one declining an invitation to visit Salt Lake City), and a portable lamp that plugs into the cigarette lighter (he bought the lamp at Chief Auto Parts on his day off--he tries to take one day a week--so he can continue to work after dark).
“I have worked with people all of my life,” said Sister Mary Glennon, an Irish-born nun and a member of Mahony’s cabinet, “and I have never seen a more energetic man.”
During the recent riots in Los Angeles, Mahony canceled a long-scheduled pilgrimage to France, and instead visited hospitals, met with African-American and Korean-American residents and merchants, and opened the doors of his downtown residence for hundreds of National Guard members to take showers.
The cardinal also appeared live on half a dozen television stations appealing for calm. On the Sunday after the violence began, he said Mass in several churches in the hardest-hit areas. In his most visible effort, Mahony led an appeal to looters to return stolen goods--no questions asked--to their churches. Although no overall tally has been kept, one church in the Pico-Union area collected more than $100,000 in looted goods.
Joining the likes of Gov. Pete Wilson, Mayor Tom Bradley and Police Chief-designate Willie L. Williams, he was named last week to the governing board of Rebuild L. A., the official post-riot reconstruction effort.
Some of those who know Mahony best, such as the Bakersfield priest who co-owns Mahony’s three-bedroom cabin in the Sierra, say the cardinal’s dedication to serving the church, his strong work ethic and his personal high standards have been misinterpreted as political calculation, overt ambition and self-promotion.
Msgr. Ron Swett, pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Church, who first met Mahony at summer camp in the late 1950s, acknowledged that his friend has been “on a fast track all along,” but said Mahony’s habit of taking on controversial causes does not fit the image of a career-obsessed priest.
In the 1960s and 1970s, when Mahony would rise before dawn to say Mass to migrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley, he was placing himself in the middle of a very explosive and emotional civil rights debate, the intensity of which some have compared to the current debate over abortion.
“Something like the farm labor thing could easily have killed any sort of progress in the church,” Swett said. “Things could have turned out differently. Being involved in very controversial things doesn’t necessarily lead one to becoming a bishop in the church. Usually quite the opposite.”
If it was all ambition, friends such as Swett contend, why is Mahony still making headlines and taking on unpopular causes nearly a year after being elevated to the College of Cardinals, likely the highest rank in the church hierarchy any American can hope to attain? (Although some church observers speculate about Mahony’s chances of becoming Pope, few believe that the college would select an American because of the political fallout of having the world’s only superpower also represented at the helm of the world’s most dominant church.)
The symbol of Mahony’s success, his red watered-silk biretta, rests beneath a plexiglass case on a long, low coffee table in his living room, easy for visitors to admire but wisely removed from the curious touch of his year-old cat, Miguel. The original hat, presented to him last June by Pope John Paul II, is never worn, stored in the archdiocese’s archives for safekeeping.
That Mahony does not take his extraordinary success too seriously is quickly evident: On display beneath the same transparent case is a miniature replica of the cardinal’s biretta, a gift from a visitor to Rome for his cat.
Nicknamed the “First-born Son” and “Chosen One” by priests at St. Vibiana’s, Miguel is the one living being that regularly gets away with just about anything around the cordial but decidedly guarded cardinal.
Mahony adores the sleek, inquisitive silver tabby, who has been known to activate his personal fax machine, swipe at his computer keyboard and rub luxuriously against an expensive Italian sculpture bolted to the fireplace mantle.
“So are you checking him out, Miguel?” Mahony puckered, as if talking to a baby, as Miguel--Mahony’s middle name in Spanish--affectionately greeted a visitor. “He is really a nice cat,” Mahony volunteered.
Miguel has free reign of the cardinal’s fourth-floor quarters, including a long narrow balcony crowded with potted flowers, each meticulously connected to an automatic watering system erected by Mahony. The cardinal, an avid tinkerer who sometimes packs his tools in a carpenter’s belt, has fenced the balcony with chicken wire to keep Miguel from tumbling into the church courtyard below.
Miguel’s many toys are scattered around the apartment, but his litter box and food dish are tucked away in a cramped pantry near the bedroom. The room once served as Cardinal Manning’s private chapel, but it now houses Mahony’s short-wave radio equipment (he has been a ham radio enthusiast since high school), which on some late nights allows him to slip anonymously into conversations around the world.
The cardinal lives in a comfortable but no-frills suite that also includes a living room and corner office, bedroom, bathroom and oversized corridor lined with bookshelves (most are stuffed with church and work-related books, but Mahony is also an avid reader of Tom Clancy novels) and a well-stocked bar. Most of the furniture comes from Levitz, purchased for about $1,500 on a trip to Glassell Park by Mahony and his secretary after the newly installed archbishop canceled the archdiocese’s order for $15,000 in furnishings.
“It didn’t go with anything I had,” Mahony said.
The suite is simple, but not ascetic. The cardinal has a stereo, large color television, VCR, personal computer, laser printer, fax and a cross-country ski machine, which he mounts three times a week to keep his 6-foot, 3-inch frame a lean 170 pounds (Mahony is a disciplined eater, but friends say he cannot resist rice pudding or fresh ice cream). Ever mindful of the time, he watches tapes of his favorite news shows while working out.
The walls are decorated with religious mementos and personal photographs, including a collage of pictures of his boyhood homes in North Hollywood. The focal point of his quarters is a stunning Italian-made statue of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, the namesake of Los Angeles and the symbol of the archdiocese.
A larger version of the statue looms over the altar across the courtyard at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral. The statues depict the Virgin Mary in a flowing gown with cherub faces tucked in the creases, and once belonged to the vast Doheny collection donated to the archdiocese years ago.
Mahony retrieved the smaller sculpture--which he said is valued at $250,000--from a little-used chapel at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, had it mounted on his mantle and commissioned a local artist to paint a vibrant sunburst pattern behind it. For a priest who lives on a salary of $600 a month, it is a heavenly possession.
Several times a year, including a week in July and a few days after Easter, Mahony escapes with friends to the small Sierra town of Fish Camp, where he and Swett had a cabin built 18 years ago. There he takes long walks, catches up on reading and methodically--and enthusiastically--tends to a laundry list of chores. He has replaced the hot water heater, stained the deck and installed an exhaust fan in the bathroom. The list for July--already compiled--includes painting the exterior and digging a drainage ditch.
“It blows a lot of people’s minds about cardinals, when they hear this kind of stuff,” chuckled seminarian friend Niederauer, who is one of three regular guests each summer. “The dishwasher is Roger. He won’t let us wash the dishes because he does it faster and better than we do.”
On holidays and some special occasions, the cardinal slips away to visit his family, including his mother and twin brother, Louis, in Orange County, and older brother, Neil, in Ventura County. Mahony’s father, Victor, who once worked as an electrician at Universal Studios and later owned a poultry processing plant on Chandler Boulevard in North Hollywood, died in 1959 while his son was still in the seminary.
Talk at the Mahony family gatherings rarely drifts beyond niceties about nieces and nephews, their children, the weather and family gossip. Church matters, controversial topics such as abortion, and the cardinal’s job are strictly off limits.
It is like a bus driver on holiday who does not like talking about driving his bus, Louis said. At a gathering several years ago, a family member challenged Mahony on the church’s celibacy policy, only to be “shut down” by an unyielding cardinal, another relative recalled.
“He probably doesn’t even know that I don’t agree with him on some things,” said Neil Mahony, who is divorced, remarried to a Baptist and whose fraternal connections have still not helped him get his first marriage annulled. “I don’t bring it up because I know he has had enough of it.”
For about a year, 86-year-old Loretta Mahony, the family matriarch, has had difficulty remembering things and has required the assistance of a live-in housemate. It has been a hard time for the Mahony boys, who have found themselves dwelling more and more on their mother’s failing health. Still, their discussions focus mostly on logistics--such as arranging for her care--rather than the emotional toll of her illness, Mahony’s brothers said.
“The way we were raised, men were never supposed to show any emotion,” Neil Mahony said. “I know (Roger) has emotion, it is just not showing. None of us are emotional at all. Just ask my wife about me. That is her big complaint: ‘You cold son-of-a-bitch.’ We have never been emotional. We get that from mom’s side--a stoic, German demeanor.”
Louis Mahony, chief financial officer for a plumbing contractor, said it has not been easy for any of them. But when asked if the cardinal shares his hurt or offers religious comfort in their conversations, he replied tersely: “We don’t talk that way.”
But, he continued softly to a stranger, “Mom has always been so independent, capable and so on. To see her to the point where she can’t make coffee in the morning, and forget something you told her five minutes earlier . . . it does bother you.”
When questioned about his mother, the cardinal said he telephones her twice a week, but he quietly requested that she not be bothered for an interview.
“My mother,” he said, with a pause, “it is just very hard.”
Even with his family nearby, Mahony acknowledged that his life can be lonely. He lives at the rectory at St. Vibiana’s, instead of a more palatial archbishop’s residence, because he values the company of other priests. On his first assignment in Fresno, he shared the parish house with his mother, who moved from Los Angeles and doubled as his housekeeper.
“Loneliness,” he said, “is part of priesthood.”
At 56 and consumed by his profession, Mahony said he cannot conceive of getting married if the church ever changed its celibacy requirement.
“It just wouldn’t occur to me,” Mahony said. “I couldn’t change my whole life. . . . I just think, I certainly wouldn’t have the time to spend with a wife or family at all. It just wouldn’t work. It would be more tension than help.”
Mahony grew up in a family that attended church regularly and Mahony’s father, Victor, was active in the Knights of Columbus, but the Mahonys were “not fanatics about it at all,” said brother Neil.
At age 12, Roger announced that he wanted to become a priest, inspired by the pastors at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in North Hollywood, where he was an altar boy. (Mahony was born at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Hollywood, which has since closed, but his family always lived over the hill in North Hollywood.)
No one thought much about it until two years later, when the determined youngster began commuting by trolley to the archdiocese’s college preparatory seminary in downtown Los Angeles. Neil and Louis Mahony recalled nothing special about Roger during those years, describing him as just another kid doing his thing.
The future cardinal never talked much about his motivation, his family said. Even as seminarians years later, Niederauer said, the would-be priests rarely discussed such topics. “We weren’t as introspective a generation,” Niederauer said. “We felt, ‘I know what a priest does, and I want to do it.’ ”
In interviews, Mahony has traced his interest to grammar school and his admiration for several newly ordained priests at his parish who were enthusiastic and “interested in the kids.” He described their zeal as “contagious” and said he never seriously considered any other career.
“He was a very determined boy,” his mother, Loretta, recalled in an interview several years ago. “When he decided to do something, he did it.”
That determination, along with Mahony’s attention to detail and organization, have led some to speculate that the cardinal could just as easily have risen to the upper echelons of corporate America. Mahony insists he would be lost outside a religious setting.
“My interest and energy flow from my priesthood and my involvement with the church,” he said. “Any talents or skills that I might bring to the job are really kind of secondary, and only flow from the priesthood.”
On weekends and in the summer during the 1940s and ‘50s, the Mahony boys would make extra money by shoveling chicken droppings at their father’s processing plant. It was there, in the chicken coops, that Roger Mahony says he first became interested in the Latino culture, later a cornerstone of his 30-year ministry.
Victor and Loretta Mahony frequently hired Mexican immigrants to work in the processing plant, and the Mahony boys often shared lunch with their newfound friends, visited their homes for dinner, and joined in weddings and other family celebrations.
On more than one occasion, the boys also watched--helplessly--as immigration agents raided the plant, corralled their friends, and shipped them across the border. Roger Mahony began learning Spanish during those years, and later, as a seminary student, transferred to the more agrarian Fresno diocese so he could work more closely with migrant workers.
Mahony’s Spanish-language ability and his strong ties to the Latino community were key qualifications for his posting in Los Angeles, church scholars say. His advocacy of Latino causes has earned him worldwide renown in the Catholic Church, and today, he says, bigotry toward minorities is one injustice he cannot tolerate.
In one “midnight missile"--hard-hitting correspondence that Mahony has been known to write when he is unhappy about someone or something--the cardinal wrote a parish priest who had refused to hold a Spanish-language Mass. The pastor insisted that the parish had no Latinos. In fact, Mahony said, they were attending neighboring parishes where Mass in Spanish was celebrated. “I just finally said, ‘Look, father, you are going to have to do this,’ ” Mahony recalled from the living room of his quarters. “For us in this archdiocese to pretend that we are not an ethnically diverse community and to somehow not deal with that really upsets me. It is such a denial of the reality and a disservice to our people.”
Mahony coughed. His allergies were acting up, as they do every spring. He was expecting a call this afternoon from his doctor about a prescription. He hoped it would come before his next appointment, a visit to a nearby hospital to counsel an ailing priest.
It was an important appointment. Mahony has been criticized by some priests for caring more about his titular responsibilities than the needs of his 1,300 priests, the equivalent of his front-line troops. Priests are taught that the archbishop is their principal teacher and guide, giving the bond special significance beyond the typical employer-employee relationship.
Although Mahony faithfully holds get-to-know-you dinners at his residence for priests, he has offended some by missing important symbolic functions, most notably several funerals for priests. The chancery has explained that his out-of-town commitments, including committees of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as Vatican assignments, have been the culprit.
This time, Mahony was in town and was determined not to miss the appointment. He politely escorted his visitor to the cramped elevator at his apartment’s entrance, and rode to the first floor.
Outside, a handful of panhandlers begged for money. They rarely bother Mahony. Many of Skid Row’s homeless know the cardinal’s face and wave or shout approvingly when he ventures outside the cathedral. But they know he never gives a handout--at least not a monetary one.
“It goes to drugs and liquor, 95% of it,” said Mahony, who has lived above Skid Row’s homeless for seven years. Instead, he directs them to a nearby Catholic-run shelter and soup kitchen.
There have been four archbishops of Los Angeles in the archdiocese’s 56-year history, three of whom--including Roger M. Mahony--were elevated to the College of Cardinals. Before 1936, the Los Angeles area was designated a diocese, a lesser jurisdiction with a bishop as the ordinary. The Roman Catholic presence in the area predates the city’s founding in 1781 by about a dozen years. Archbishop John J. Cantwell, 1936-1947
* Born in Limerick, Ireland, on Dec. 1, 1874. Cantwell was elevated to archbishop in 1936 after serving as bishop of the Monterey-Los Angeles Diocese for 19 years. During his 30-year episcopate, Los Angeles quadrupled in population, and the number of Catholics tripled to 600,000. His concern for immigrants led to the foundation of Mexican, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian and Maronite chapels. He died Oct. 30, 1947.
Cardinal James F. McIntyre, 1948-1970
* Born in New York City on June 25, 1886. McIntyre ventured West for the first time at 62 to take up the pastoral staff of what was then the world’s fastest-growing archdiocese. The Catholic population nearly tripled, to more than 1.7 million, during his 22-year episcopate. A staunch conservative in religion and politics, he was openly charged by liberal Catholics in the 1960s with intransigence on church reforms and minority rights. He was the first American in the College of Cardinals to step down under a new Vatican mandatory retirement rules. He died July 16, 1979.
Cardinal Timothy Manning, 1970-1985
* Born Nov. 14, 1909, in Ballingeary, County Cork, Ireland. Manning was attracted to California in 1928 in answer to an appeal for priests by what was then the Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego. With McIntyre in his 80s and the Vatican’s mandatory retirement rule not yet instituted, Manning was appointed coadjutor archbishop in 1969. A year later, when McIntyre retired, Manning healed wounds by listening to unhappy groups within the church. He was never interested in the limelight, and his tenure amounted to a low-key hiatus between the archconservative McIntyre and the high-profile Mahony. He died on June 23, 1989.
The Life of the Cardinal
The son of a Universal Studios electrician who later owned a poultry processing plant, Roger M. Mahony grew up in North Hollywood. He is the fourth consecutive L.A. archbishop with an Irish surname, but he has very little Irish blood. His mother’s family is of German origin, and his father’s family is predominantly Italian. The Mahony surname came when his father, who was born in Canada, was adopted by an Irish family in the Vancouver area. Some highlights of his life: * Feb. 27, 1936: Born, with fraternal twin, Louis, in Hollywood to Loretta Marie (Baron) and Victor James Mahony. The family, including older brother, Neil, lives in North Hollywood.
* 1942: Begins grammar school at St. Charles Borromeo parish in North Hollywood.
* 1948: Inspired by the enthusiasm of the young priests at school, announces to his family that he wants to attend seminary and become a priest.
* 1950: Commutes by trolley to downtown Los Angeles to attend the Los Angeles College Preparatory Seminary, a high school for would-be priests.
* 1954: Enrolls in Our Lady Queen of the Angels Seminary in San Fernando, receiving an associate’s degree two years later.
* 1956: Enters St. John’s Seminary College in Camarillo, the official seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
* 1958: Receives a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s Seminary College and enrolls in St. John’s Theologate in Camarillo, the final educational training required for ordination. Changes his sponsorship from Los Angeles to Fresno so that upon ordination he can work with migrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley.
* 1962: Ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Fresno’s St. John’s Cathedral by the Most Rev. Aloysius J. Willinger, bishop of Monterey-Fresno. Spends four months as assistant pastor at the cathedral, then enrolls in master’s degree program at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
* 1964: Receives master’s degree in social service from Catholic University. Returns to Fresno as administrator of St. Genevieve’s Church, a small Chinese-American parish, and as the director of Catholic Charities and Social Service for the diocese.
* 1967: Named chaplain to Pope Paul VI, with the title of Reverend Monsignor, an unusual honor for someone of his age. At same time, Timothy Manning, later Mahony’s predecessor as archbishop of Los Angeles, becomes bishop of Fresno.
* 1968: Moves to St. John’s Cathedral in Fresno as an associate pastor, rising to rector five years later.
* 1970: Becomes chancellor of the Diocese of Fresno.
* 1975: Ordained auxiliary bishop by Bishop Hugh A. Donahoe of Fresno, and becomes vicar general of the diocese. His ministry on behalf of migrant farm workers wins him an appointment by Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. as the first chairman of the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board, which helped settle disputes between the United Farm Workers and growers in the state.
* 1980: Named the third bishop of Stockton by Pope John Paul II.
* 1985: Appointed fourth archbishop of Los Angeles by Pope John Paul II to succeed retiring Cardinal Timothy Manning.
* 1991: Elevated to the College of Cardinals, the first Los Angeles-born priest to receive the honor.