PORTLAND, Ore. — Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette, Mich., to shepherd the archbishop of Portland, Ore.
In a Jan. 29 statement, Archbishop-designate Sample noted his “excitement and joy at taking up this new challenge that God has placed before me.”
“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,” he said Tuesday.
“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.”
However, he said he is leaving the Catholic Church in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula “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.”
The 52-year-old archbishop-designate will succeed Archbishop John Vlazny, who submitted his resignation last year when he reached the canonical age limit of 75.
Archbishop-designate Sample has been Bishop of Marquette since 2006. He was 45 at the time of his ordination and was the youngest U.S. bishop at the time.
He serves on U.S. bishops’ conference subcommittees on Native American Catholics and on the Catechism. He is vice-postulator for the canonization cause of Venerable Frederic Baraga, the Diocese of Marquette’s first bishop.
The archbishop-designate was born in Kalispell, Mont., in 1960. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in metallurgical engineering before completing philosophy studies at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. in 1986, the Diocese of Marquette reports. He studied for the priesthood at the Pontifical College Josephinum Seminary in Ohio and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Marquette on June 1, 1990, by Bishop Mark Schmitt.
There are more than 415,000 Catholics in the western Oregon archdiocese, where they make up 12% of the archdiocese’s total population. There are 150 diocesan priests, almost 400 women religious, 78 brothers and 79 permanent archdeacons.
The archdiocese has 124 parishes, 22 missions, 40 Catholic elementary schools, 10 Catholic high schools, two Catholic colleges and universities and 10 Catholic hospitals.
The archdiocese is the second oldest in the U.S. after Baltimore. Its present territory is almost 30,000 square miles and reaches the state borders of Washington and California.
Archbishop-designate Sample will serve as administrator of the Diocese of Marquette until he is installed as archbishop in Portland.