The Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson

The Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was ordained to the priesthood in 1970 for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He went on to receive a master’s degree in divinity from St. Paul Seminary in 1976 and a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in 1979. Ordained as an auxiliary bishop for his home archdiocese in 1984, he went on to serve as Bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, (1994-2005) and the Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan (2005-2009).

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson was installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on June 10, 2009. Archbishop Carlson’s passion for education, vocations, youth ministry and priestly formation have contributed to the growth and vitality of all the Dioceses he has served. Archbishop Carlson serves on several committees. He previously served as chair of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and as co-chair of the Mission Advisory Committee for the Institute for Priestly Formation.

Archbishop Carlson received the Interfaith Partnership Award in September, 2011. He was also honored with receiving the Joseph Cardinal Ritter Award in February, 2012, the Sister Mary Ann Eckhoff Leadership Award in April, 2012, the Service to the Community Award from the Ecumenical Leadership Council in May, 2012, the Order of Saint Louis King Award in November, 2015 and the Luminary Award for Criminal Justice in June, 2017.

An official photo of Archbishop Carlson, and other resources, are available in the Archdiocese of St. Louis Press Kit upon agreeing to the terms for proper usage.

Coat of Arms



The great seal of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (viewer’s left side) is an azure, blue, field with a gold crusader’s cross, and a crown representing Saint Louis IX, King of France and patron of both the Archdiocese of St. Louis and City of St. Louis. On the extremes of the cross are found the fleur-de-lis flower that recalls the French foundation of the city. In the upper corner of the shield is a silver crescent moon symbolizing Mary, the Blessed Virgin, the state of Missouri, and the navigational direction of west. At the bottom of the shield a silver, or argent, wavy band symbolizes a body of water or in this case the Mississippi River. When all the symbols are read together they suggest the description: West of a body of water, the Mississippi River, there is a diocese/city named for the Crusader King of France.

The personal arms of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson (viewer’s right side) was adopted in 1984 when he became Auxiliary of St. Paul – Minneapolis, and is now joined to the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The garb of wheat on his personal arms represents his native Minneapolis (the "miller of the Midwest") and the green field alludes to the plains as well as recalling the liturgical color symbolizing hope. The crescent represents his devotion to Mary and the Latin cross is a symbol of faith. The upper portion of the shield is taken from the arms associated with the bishop's family and the waves in base allude to the Sioux River and recall his service as bishop of Sioux Falls.

The episcopal coat of arms is completed by the gold processional metropolitan cross behind the shield, the green ecclesiastical hat or “gallero” with its ten tassels on each side, indicates Archbishop Carlson’s episcopal rank, and the motto which appears on an ornamental scroll, are the distinctive heraldic emblems of an archbishop in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. The episcopal motto of Archbishop Carlson is, “Ante Crucem Nihil Defensionis,” that is, Before the Cross There is No Defense.

Current Position

Installed as Archbishop of St. Louis, June 10, 2009

Appointed Archbishop of St. Louis, April 21, 2009

Installed as Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, February 24, 2005

Named Ordinary of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, March 21, 1995

Appointed Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls,
January 13, 1994

Ordained Bishop, January 11, 1984, and served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Ordained a Priest for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, May 23, 1970

Currently Serves As

Member, Canon Law Society of America

Member, NCDVD Advisory Board (National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors)

Co-Founder, The Messengers of Peace Religious Community, Colombia, South America, 2004

Board Chair, Board of Directors, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, 2009

Member, Episcopal Advisory Board of the Institute on Religious Life, October 2009

Episcopal Board of Advisors, Cause of Beatification of Archbishop Sheen, October 2009

Episcopal Advisor, Renewal Ministries

Chair, Board of Governors, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation 2010

Episcopal Advisory Board, Catholic Leadership Institute

Member, Episcopal Advisory Board for Augustine Institute 2011

Member, Board of Directors of Cross Catholic Outreach 2012

Member, Catholics Come Home Theological Advisory Board 2012

Member, USCCB Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America 2013

Member, Episcopal Board of Governors for the Pontifical North American College 2013

Member, USCCB Subcommittee for the Catholic Communication Campaign


Saint Paul Seminary, B.A. in Philosophy, 1966

Saint Paul Seminary, M.Div./Master of Divinity, Saint Paul Seminary, 1976

Catholic University of America, Licentiate in Canon Law, 1979


Born to Robert and Jeanne Carlson on June 30, 1944, in
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Humanitarian of the Year Award, South Dakota Right to Life, October 3, 1998

Cosmopolitan Club of Sioux Falls Distinguished Service Award, 2002

The Institute for Priestly Formation, Our Lady of Guadalupe Award, 2003

Knight Commander, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of

Appointed an Honorary Canon by the Patriarch of Jerusalem for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, 2004

Bishop Murphy Award for Leaders of Outstanding Faith, Diocese of Saginaw, April 24, 2009

Service Award from Interfaith Partnership Faith Beyond Walls, September 22, 2011

The Joseph Cardinal Ritter Award from Cardinal Ritter High School, February 10, 2012

2012 Sister Mary Ann Eckhoff, SSND Leadership Award from the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, April 26, 2012

Service to the Community Award from the Ecumenical Leadership Council, May 29, 2012

Daughters of St. Paul Man of the Year Award, 2013

Cardinal Newman Award, Newman Apostolate, 2013

Order of Saint Louis the King Award, November, 2015

Luminary Award for Criminal Justice, June, 2017

Previous Positions

Chair, USCCB Committee Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations 2010 - 2013

Past President, National Foundation for Catholic Youth Ministry

Past Chair, USCCB Committee on Vocations

Past Chair, USCCB Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry

Past Chair, USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Youth

Past Chair, USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, 2005-2008

Former Member of USCCB Committee on Laity

Former Member of USCCB Committee on Pastoral Practice

Former Episcopal Moderator, USCCB Committee on Scouting, 1993-1997

Former Episcopal Moderator, Serra International – USA/Canada Council, 1997-2001

Past President, National Evangelization Teams (NET), 1989-2001

Former Board Member St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Former Board Member Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, Michigan

Former Board Member The International Dominican Foundation

Former Member, Advisory Board, Los Cabos Children’s Foundation

Former Member, Board of Trustees, Catholic University of America 2010-2013

Former Co-Chair, Mission Advisory Committee, Institute for Priestly Formation, Omaha NE

Former Cabinet Chair, Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis

Former Member, Board, Apostleship of Prayer 2010

Sampling of Recent Speeches/Presentations/Publications

Retreat for Bishops of Region XII, Seattle, WA January 2008

Pastoral Letter on Peace, December 12, 2008

Pastoral Letter on Evangelization, January 6, 2008

“El Obispo Como Protagonista de la Formacion” LA Revista Catolica, March 2008, pp. 6-14

Retreat for Bishops of Texas Region, January 2009

Retreat for Bishops of Region IX, January 2010

Retreat Priests of Diocese of Lincoln 2010

“Challenges for Bishops in Fostering Unity Among Priests,” USCCB Spring Meeting June 2010

“Laws of Love: Reflections on the Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Precepts of the Church, and Spiritual Works of Mercy,” 2012

Rally for Religious Liberty Speech in Jefferson City, March 2012

Pastoral Letter on Evangelization, “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord,” 2013

Pastoral Letter on Sacrament of Reconciliation “Jesus Christ, The Divine Physician,” 2014


Pastoral Letters