It has long been speculated that Bishop Alexander Sample was one of the next Bishops in line to receive an Archdiocese. Today, the Vatican announced just that:
via Vatican Radio News:
(Vatican Radio) On Tuesday Pope Benedict XVI appointed 52-year-old bishop Alexander K. Sample, Metropolitan Archbishop of Portland Oregon, U.S.A.
He takes over the pastoral leadership of the Archdiocese of nearly 400,000 Catholics from Archbishop John G. Vlazny who has retired.
Bishop Sample was ordained a priest of the diocese on June 1, 1990, at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette. He served in several parish assignments before moving to Rome, Italy, from 1994-96 to earn a degree in Canon Law. Upon returning to the diocese he held a number of duties in the chancery office. He served as a member of the Marriage Tribunal, as chancellor, as a member of the College of Consultors, as director of the Department of Ministry Personnel Services, as director of the Bishop Baraga Association, diocesan chaplain to the Knights of Columbus, and was involved in many major efforts of the diocese. On January 25, 2006, by the mandate of Pope Benedict XVI, he was ordained bishop of Marquette.
While I can’t think of a better Bishop to head an Archdiocese, I am quite sad to see Sample leave Michigan. I was also hoping that he would head to Anchorage when Archbishop Schwietz turns 75.
In a prepared statement to the Church in the Diocese of Marquette, Archbishop-Designate Sample stated,
“Even as there is excitement and joy at taking up this new challenge that God has placed before me, I would be less than honest if I did not say that I will leave the Church in the U.P. with a certain heaviness of heart. I will profoundly miss the people, the clergy and religious of the diocese. I will miss my brother priests in a special way, since I was chosen from among them to be their bishop.
“I have always tried to be obedient to the will of God and to accept whatever the Church asks of me to be God’s will. It is in this spirit that I have said ‘yes’ to the Holy Father’s request for me to serve the Church in a new place in western Oregon. I ask the prayers of all the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Marquette. They will always be in my heart and prayers. Venerable Frederic Baraga, pray for us!”
Michigan’s loss is Oregon’s gain. I also say this sets him to be in line for one of the Major dioceses in the country. Specifically Chicago, although, I don’t know if there is now the correct timing for that to be the case.
In any matter, let us please pray for Bishop Sample and his new role out west, and let us keep Marquette in our prayers as well as they are losing quite a Shepherd.