Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who heads the nation’s most populous Catholic archdiocese with 3.6 million people, grew up in North Hollywood, where his father had a poultry farm for many years.
The young Mahony, raised in St. Charles Borromeo parish, set out to lead his own flocks of Catholic faithful by enrolling in the archdiocese’s high school seminary, then St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. He also attended the former Our Lady Queen of the Angels seminary, next door to San Fernando Mission, for a brief period in 1955.
The tall, slender cleric served first in the Fresno Diocese in 1962. There, Mahony was appointed diocesan director of charities and social work under then-Bishop Timothy Manning, who became Los Angeles archbishop in 1970.
In 1975, Mahony was named an auxiliary bishop of Fresno and was appointed the first chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. After serving from 1980 to 1985 as bishop of Stockton, the bilingual Mahony was chosen to succeed the retiring Cardinal Manning in Los Angeles.
Mahony, who turns 61 today, was the youngest U.S. archbishop when he took over the archdiocese stretching from Long Beach to Santa Maria--including the San Fernando Valley of his youth.
Well-organized, well-spoken and ambitious, Mahony has taken a leading role in articulating the American bishops’ positions on major social and moral issues. He has stepped into Los Angeles civic affairs in efforts to obtain ongoing funding for a multichurch, anti-gang youth organization and recently concluded a successful fight for a new downtown cathedral site.