The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis has appointed San Francisco's native auxiliary bishop, Robert W. McElroy, as the new head of the diocese of San Diego.

McElroy will succeed Bishop Cirilo Flores, who passed away from cancer in September just one year after assuming the position.

Born in San Francisco in 1954, Bishop McElroy, 61, grew up in San Mateo County and resided with his family in Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Daly City and Our Lady of Angels Parish in Burlingame.

After receiving a master's of divinity degree from St. Patrick's Seminary and University in 1979, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop John R. Quinn in St. Mary's Cathedral April 12, 1980.

The bishop's prestigious educational background also includes a bachelor's degree in History from Harvard University, as well as a master's on the subject from Stanford.

He also received a doctorate in political science from Stanford, and holds another doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The bishop has taught at the university level, and has authored various articles, as well as two books.

While still a young priest Bishop McElroy served as parochial vicar of both St. Cecilia parish in San Francisco and St. Pius in Redwood City.

The bishop also served at the chancery as secretary to Archbishop Quinn, and in 1995 became the vicar general for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

On April 4, 1996 he was named a prelate of honor by Pope Saint John Paul II, and was given the title "Monsignor."

Bishop McElroy then served as pastor of St. Gregory Parish in San Mateo for 14 years before being appointed an auxiliary bishop for San Francisco.

His appointment came in July 2010 and his episcopal ordination took place Sept. 7 of that year at St. Mary's Cathedral by Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

With just under 1 million Catholics, San Diego is one of the largest Catholic dioceses in the United States.