When Cardinal Roger Mahony turned 75 earlier this year, he promptly stepped down as archbishop of Los Angeles and handed the reins over to a successor chosen months earlier.
That won't be happening when Orange County's top Catholic cleric celebrates his 75th birthday Tuesday.
Although Bishop Tod D. Brown is required to send a letter of resignation to the Vatican when the clock strikes 75, no official retirement date or replacement has been announced, spokesman Stephen Bohannon said Sunday.
"It could take a year or it could take a few months" to find Brown's successor, Bohannon said.
Or perhaps longer?
OC Weekly reported last year that Brown asked for a five-year extension so he could oversee completion of a new cathedral for the Diocese of Orange. However, Bohannon said he was unaware of such a request.
Although it's not unusual for a bishop to stay on the job past the mandatory retirement age, the timetable is ultimately decided by the pope. A search for Brown's successor might already be underway, Bohannon said, but "nobody would know" because the process is so secretive.
For now, Brown remains at the helm, with an invitation-only birthday bash on his calendar and a just-released commemorative issue of Orange County Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, honoring his 13 years as Bishop of Orange.