The Most Rev. John J. Ward of Los Angeles, who rose to become a Roman Catholic bishop, retired Tuesday as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.
Pope John Paul II accepted Ward's resignation Tuesday, which Ward, in keeping with church law, submitted last September when he turned 75.
Ward is the second Los Angeles auxiliary bishop whose departure has been announced. Last month, Auxiliary Bishop Armando X. Ochoa was named by the pope as the bishop of El Paso, Texas.
Ward served 33 years as an auxiliary bishop, longer than any other bishop in the United States. He was the last priest to be ordained by the first archbishop of Los Angeles. He is also the only Los Angeles bishop to have participated in the historic Second Vatican Council in 1963 and 1965, which was convened by Pope John XXII in 1962. Known as Vatican II, it ushered in sweeping reforms for the church.
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony hailed Ward as "an extraordinary churchman."
Ward, who has served simultaneously as pastor of St. Timothy Church at Pico and Beverly Glen boulevards, will step down from his pastoral post July 1. He will continue as vicar general of the archdiocese. The vicar general is second in command after Mahony.
Born in Los Angeles of Irish immigrant parents, Ward said the church here has always ministered to newcomers. As early as 1942, he said, Archbishop John J. Cantwell required all priests to learn Spanish.
Ward grew up near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and attended Holy Cross Elementary School, where he said the example of priests caught his imagination and set him on a path to the priesthood.
He entered Los Angeles College Preparatory Seminary and then went on to St. John's Seminary in Camarillo in 1940. From 1949 to 1952 he studied at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he earned a licentiate in canon law.
He was consecrated as a bishop on Dec. 12, 1963. In 1970 he was appointed vicar general by Cardinal Timothy Manning. In 1986, Mahony placed him in charge of one of five pastoral regions within the nation's largest archdiocese.