George Niederauer, the eighth Roman Catholic bishop of The Diocese Salt Lake City, died on Tuesday at age 80. He’s remembered as a leader with eloquent words and an inclusive worldview.
Niederauer passed away peacefully in a nursing home near San Francisco, where he most recently served as Archbishop. Before that he spent 11 years in Salt Lake where Monsignor Terrence Fitzgerald served with him as vicar general. Fitzgerald says Neiderauer was very well liked by the people of Utah.
“No one was a stranger to him," says Fitzgerald. "He embraced everyone. It didn’t matter what religion somebody was, what race somebody was or what sexual orientation. He wasn’t doctrinaire in those ways.”
Niederauer came to Utah in 1994 from his hometown, Los Angeles, where he earned advanced degrees in English literature. Which Fitzgerald says he put to good use.
“He was a marvelous preacher," says Fitzgerald." He intertwined poetry and quotes from literary authors into his homilies.”
Fitzgerald says Niederauer also worked to expand the number of Spanish masses across the state including the first weekly Spanish mass in the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
He also oversaw the creation of the Skaggs Catholic Center in Draper, a 57 acre campus which houses Juan Diego Catholic High School along with Saint John the Baptist Middle and Elementary Schools.
Funeral services for Bishop Niederauer will be held next Friday, May 12th in San Francisco. A vigil in Salt Lake City is being planned to follow soon after.