San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, 67, told Catholic News Agency [at the recent U.S. bishops meeting in Baltimore]: “I always knew I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life, something to make the world a better place, something adventurous and unconventional.”
Cordileone’s father, Leon, a Navy veteran, was a commercial fisherman in San Diego, and the future archbishop would spend a lot of time around his dad’s boat.
He said that there were a lot of former Navy men working there and that “kind of got in my imagination.”
“So I thought ‘maybe I’ll serve my country,’” he said, considering the Navy or some other military branch.
But a shift took place toward the end of his high school years and during his first year of college at San Diego State University when he was “getting more spiritually serious.”
“I always took my faith seriously. I always practiced it. I never stopped going to church. Even as a teenager, I’d go on my own. But then I was starting to get more spiritually serious, thinking about the big questions of life: ‘What’s it all worth? What does God want me to do?’” he said.
There was a young priest at his parish whom Cordieone called an “inspiration,” adding that “his preaching really connected well with things I was dealing with, trying to think through my life.”
“So I finally found the courage to talk to him about it,” he said.
The priest sent Cordileone on a discernment retreat at a local seminary, and “it wouldn’t get out of my mind, so I knew I had to enter the seminary, at least give it a try.”
Cordileone said that he wasn’t convinced of his vocation when he entered the seminary initially, adding that “it took a few years.”
“And I wasn’t at peace until I accepted it,” he said, adding that it brought him “a sense of freedom.”
That feeling of freedom was a confirmation to Cordileone that God was calling him to be a priest, he said.
The archbishop said that there were signs of a vocation “all along” in his life.
“It’s the sort of thing, when you look back in retrospect, you can see where God is leading you and he’s been working that way in my life,” he said.
Cordileone said that as a boy and young man, the Eucharist and the Mass were “instrumental” for him.
“When I was a boy, I eventually realized I was different because I liked dressing up and going to church,” he said with a chuckle.
The archbishop said that it was the “beauty and majesty” of the Church’s liturgy and frequenting the sacrament of reconciliation that was instilled in him early in life that aided him in his spiritual journey.
Cordileone was ordained a priest on July 9, 1982. He was ordained to be the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of San Diego on Aug. 21, 2002, appointed bishop of Oakland in 2009, and then appointed archbishop of San Francisco three years later.
From Catholic News Agency