William Levada entered the diocesan seminary to begin his college work at Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary in San Fernando, completing the last two years of his philosophy course and Bachelor of Arts degree at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo. After his graduation in 1958, he began his course of theological studies at the Gregorian University in Rome, with residence and seminary formation program at the North American College.
William Levada was ordained a priest by the Most Reverend Martin J. O'Connor, Rector of the North American College, on December 20, 1961, coincidentally his father's sixty-first birthday. After receiving his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in July of 1962, he returned to take up pastoral duties in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Father Levada spent his first year as an associate pastor in St. Louis of France Parish, in the San Gabriel Valley community of La Puente. In the summer of 1963 he was transferred to St. Monica's Church in Santa Monica, where he served as associate pastor, high school religion teacher, and chaplain of the local Community College Newman Center.
In the fall of 1967, Cardinal McIntyre, then Archbishop of Los Angeles, sent Father Levada to Rome to pursue a doctoral degree in theology at the Gregorian University. During this period of graduate studies, he also conducted seminars at the North American College for the undergraduate theology students, and served as an assistant on the North American College staff. He earned the degree Doctor of Sacred Theology in June of 1971.
In the fall of 1970 Father Levada was assigned to teach theology at St. John's Seminary (graduate and college departments), a teaching assignment he continued for the next six years. After three years, while continuing teaching at the major seminary, Father Levada was named Director of Continuing Education for the Clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and in 1975-76 also served as President of the Senate of Priests.
In the fall of 1976, at the recommendation of the authorities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Father Levada was assigned to work for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Holy See, a position he held for the next six years. On May 15, 1980, he was given the honorary title of Chaplain of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.
Monsignor Levada returned to California in the summer of 1982 to take up duties as Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, with offices located at the state capital in Sacramento. He served for two years as coordinator of statewide Church efforts and liaison with government agencies.
On March 29, 1983, Monsignor Levada was appointed Titular Bishop of Capri
and Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, and received episcopal ordination
at the hands of Cardinal Timothy Manning in St. Vibiana Cathedral, Los
Angeles, on the Feast of the Ascension, May 12, 1983. In February
of 1984, he moved from Sacramento to Santa Barbara, where he was assigned
as Episcopal Vicar for Santa Barbara County in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
As a member of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops he has served
Conference committees: Committee of Doctrine, Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Committee for Pastoral Research and Practices, as well as the United States Catholic Conference
Archbishop Mahony appointed him Moderator of the Curia and Chancellor of the Archdiocese in 1986. On July 1, 1986, he was appointed eighth Archbishop of Portland in Oregon. The installation Mass for Portland's eighth Archbishop took place in the University of Portland Chiles Center on the fifty-seventh anniversary of his parents' wedding September 21, 1986.
During his nine years as Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, Archbishop Levada accomplished many things. Some of those accomplishments include: undertaking a successful $5,000,000 drive for a retirement fund and the St. John Vianney retirement residence for diocesan priests; being the only American Bishop on the Editorial Committee of the Holy See's Commission for the new Catechism of the Catholic Church; and overseeing the restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in time for the 150th Anniversary celebration of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon in 1996.
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Archbishop William J. Levada was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of San
Francisco on August 17, 1995, and transferred to San Francisco on October
24, 1995. He succeeded as Archbishop of San Francisco on December
27, 1995. On May 13, 2005 Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop William
J. Levada to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He was named a Cardinal on February 22, 2006, and received the "red hat"
on March 24, 2006 from Pope Benedict XVI.
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