Austin Keith Rios consecrated as bishop coadjutor of California

By Stephanie Martin Taylor
Posted May 6, 2024

[Diocese of California] The Rt. Rev. Austin Keith Rios was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of California on May 4 at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. The consecration paves the way for Rios to succeed the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, who is retiring July 24 after 18 years as the diocese’s chief pastor.

The presider was the Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, bishop provisional of West Missouri. In a historic first for the Diocese of California, the examination — the series of questions the bishop-elect must answer prior to ordination — was in a mix of Spanish and English.

“¿Crees verdaderamente que Dios te ha llamado a ser obispo?” Bruce asked. In English: “Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of Bishop?”

“Así lo creo,” Rios responded, in Spanish, meaning: “I am so persuaded.”

Rios is the Diocese of California’s first Latino bishop. His heritage includes Mexican American ancestry from his father’s side and Scottish and English ancestry from his mother’s side. Although English was spoken at home, Rios began learning Spanish at an early age to embrace his Latino heritage. He is also fluent in Italian, which he honed during his 12-year tenure as the rector of St. Paul’s Within the Walls Episcopal Church in Rome, Italy.

The offertory reflected Rios’ commitment to multilingual and multicultural ministries. Donation recipients include the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, St. Paul’s Within the Walls’ primary outreach mission housed within the church; La Capilla de Santa Maria, a Spanish-speaking congregation in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where Rios served as rector for five years; the Diocese of Western North Carolina’s Center for Hispanic Ministry; and the Diocese of California’s Racial, Social and Environmental Justice discretionary fund.

The preacher was Tennessee Bishop Brian Lee Cole. There also were six co-consecrators: Andrus, Maine Bishop Thomas J. Brown, Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe Bishop Mark D.W. Edington; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Sierra Pacific Synod Bishop Jeff R. Johnson; Puerto Rico Bishop and Cuba Provisional Bishop Rafael Luis Morales Maldonado, and West Tennessee Bishop Phoebe A Roaf.

Rios is married to Maleah Rios and has one child. He calls several places home, including Texas, where he was born; Rome, Italy; North Carolina; Wisconsin; Louisiana; and now, the San Francisco Bay Area. He will be installed as the ninth bishop of California on Aug. 11.

Video of the consecration service is available on the Grace Cathedral YouTube channel.

— Stephanie Martin Taylor is the Diocese of California’s Canon for Communications.