After spending the past seven years as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette, the Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample is heading back west. Tuesday, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed him archbishop of Portland in Oregon.
In a prepared statement to the Church in the Diocese of Marquette, Archbishop-Designate Sample stated, â??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.
â??I have always tried to be obedient to the will of God and to accept whatever the Church asks of me to be Godâ??s will. It is in this spirit that I have said â??yesâ?? to the Holy Fatherâ??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!â?? he wrote.
Archbishop-Designate Sample will remain as administrator of the Diocese of Marquette until his installation in Portland. At that time, the Diocesan College of Consultors will select a new diocesan administrator who will serve the Diocese of Marquette until a new bishop or an apostolic administrator is named by the Pope.
The Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon covers the western part of the state from the summit of the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean. It contains 29,717 square miles, which is almost twice as many as the Diocese of Marquette. Numbering 415,725, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Portland comprise 12 percent of the total population. The archdiocese has 124 parishes, 22 missions, 40 elementary schools, 10 high schools, two colleges and universities, one diocesan seminary, and 10 hospitals. There are also 150 diocesan priests, 144 religious priests, 388 women religious, 78 brothers, and 79 permanent deacons in the archdiocese.