A member of the Dominicans since 1970, Robert Christian was ordained priest on June 4, 1976. He had a B.A. in English from the University of Santa Clara, California (1970) and a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Albert College, Oakland, California (1973). In 1977, he received a Master of Divinity degree from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Oakland. In 1981, he earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. In 1984, he earned his doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) also from the Angelicum.
He had a long teaching career, including teacher at Dominican College in San Rafael, California (1976-1979); conventual lector (parochial ministry) at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle and Director of the Newman Center at the University of Washington (1984-1985); Professor (Sacraments and Ecclesiology) at the Angelicum, Rome (1985-1997); lecturer in theology at the Graduate Theological Union (1997-1999); vice dean and professor at the Angelicum (1999-2014).
Other appointments include Peritus at the 1990 Synod of Bishops on Priestly Formation; member of ARCIC III; and Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (2013-2018).
He was consecrated as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, June 5, 2018. He was appointed rector of St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California, where he died July 11, 2019.