SAN FRANCISCO - Bishop Robert Christian, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and rector of St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, died in his sleep Thursday at his residence at the seminary.
“I was deeply saddened to learn this morning of his passing. The Archdiocese was greatly blessed to have his wisdom and leadership even if for so brief a time as auxiliary bishop and even briefer time as rector of the Seminary,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said July 11.
“We join with the Dominican community in praying for the repose of his soul and for peace and comfort for his wonderful family in their time of mourning.”
Born in San Francisco in 1948, Christian graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in literature in 1970.
He entered the Dominican novitiate in Oakland the same year, studying at Saint Albert College and the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.
He made his solemn vows in 1974 and began attending courses at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas in Rome. He was ordained a Dominican priest in 1976, and began his teaching career at Dominican College in San Rafael.
After later receiving his doctorate in theology from the Angelicum, Christian began what would be a long teaching career at the university, lasting from 1985-1997.
In California, he served as vicar and administrator of the Western Dominican Province, university professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and as a member of the Clergy Education Board for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Christian then held the role of deputy dean of the Angelicum from 1999-2014. After a sabbatical, he became master of students for the Western Dominican Province at St. Albert Priory in 2015.
He was a peritus at the Synod of Bishops on Priestly Formation in 1990, and was a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.
Christian was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the San Francisco archdiocese in 2018, and was consecrated June 5 of that year.
He was appointed rector of St. Patrick's Seminary Jan. 14.
A visitation and vigil will be held for Christian July 22 at St. Dominic parish in San Francisco, and his funeral Mass will be said the following day at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption.
His body will be buried at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia, about 60 miles southwest of Sacramento, July 24.
The Western Dominican Province said that “Bishop Christian has tirelessly served the Church and faithful for nearly 50 years. We are deeply saddened to hear of his death and entrust his soul to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. We ask for your prayers for the repose of his soul, as well as for his grieving family, friends and Dominican brothers around the world.”