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Image gallery of
the installation

A message from Oakland’s new bishop
Student, priest, pastor, bishop
Bishop talks about immigration, liturgy, youth
Cordileone family shares memories of their favorite bishop
Calexico parishioners recall their pastor, ‘Father Sam’
Bishop Cordileone: from his earliest years
Saying goodbye to San Diego
The origins of the bishops’ office
Symbols of the bishop’s office

Catholic Voice
  May 11, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Archbishop Allen Vigneron: The transition from Oakland to Detroit Bishop Cordileone: from his earliest years
The future bishop of Oakland on his First Communion Day.

Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone was born in San Diego on June 5, 1956, to Leon and Mary Cordileone, the third of their four children.

His parents followed Sicilian tradition and named their son for his maternal grandfather Salvatore, a fisherman from Sicily, and his paternal uncle Joseph, who was killed in World War II.
He grew up in San Diego, attending Blessed Sacrament Church with his mother. His father, a fisherman, was not an active Massgoer until later in life.

The young Cordileone was an active child, interested in music and sports, learning the saxophone and watching the Aztecs play at San Diego State University near his home. He rode his bike and had a paper route, often befriending his older customers.

His mother remembers the time he went to visit an elderly couple. It got late and he hadn’t come home. “So I called them and asked, ‘Is Sam still there?’ They said, ‘Yes, he is and we’re having a great time talking.’”

Cordileone graduated from Crawford High School in 1974 and enrolled at San Diego State. At the same time he began to consider priesthood, a discernment that continued when he transferred to the University of San Diego and enrolled in St. Francis Seminary on the USD campus.

He was ordained to the priesthood by San Diego Bishop Leo Maher on July 9, 1982, after earning a B.A. in philosophy from USD and a Bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Father Cordileone served as associate pastor at St. Martin of Tours Parish in La Mesa before returning to Rome in 1985 to study the new Code of Canon Law, which recently had been promulgated.

He earned a doctorate at Gregorian University, then he came back to San Diego in 1989 as secretary to Coadjutor Bishop Robert Brom. He also worked in the diocesan Tribunal and when Bishop Brom took over as diocesan bishop, Father Cordileone assumed full-time Tribunal work.

In 1991, he accepted an assignment as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Calexico, a post he held until 1995 when he returned to Rome as assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court which primarily handles appeals on questions of procedure and jurisdiction of other Church courts.

On July 5, 2002 Pope John Paul II appointed him as auxiliary bishop of San Diego. He was ordained a bishop by Bishop Brom on Aug. 21. His parents and 96-year-old grandmother, Theresa Giardina, were among the 1,000 people who gathered at USD’s Church of the Immaculata for the ordination by Bishop Brom.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi installed Bishop Cordileone as the fourth bishop of the Oakland Diocese on May 5, 2009, in the diocese’s new Cathedral of Christ the Light. Mrs. Cordileone, whose husband died five years ago, was in attendance.

(Staff writers from The Southern Cross contributed to this report.)

ABOVE: Bishop Salvatore Cordileone stands with his 96-year-old grandmother, Theresa Giardina, following his Aug. 21, 2002 episcopal ordination.
LEFT: Leon and Mary Cordileone with their children, Benedetto, Maria, Salvatore and Theresa, around 1960.

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