Portland’s new archbishop: “I’m a teacher at heart” | Jim Graves | Catholic World Report
Archbishop-elect Sample discusses the liturgy, sex abuse scandals, social media, and more.
Archbishop-elect Alexander Sample, 52, will be installed as the 11th archbishop of Portland, Oregon on April 2, succeeding the Most Reverend John Vlazny.
Archbishop-elect Sample was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Marquette, located on the upper peninsula of Michigan, in 1990. He was consecrated Marquette’s bishop in 2006. At the time of his episcopal ordination, he was the youngest Catholic bishop in the US, and the first to be born in the 1960s.
Sample was born in Montana and grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and attended Catholic schools there. Although he had thought about a vocation to the priesthood while growing up, he initially decided to pursue a career in engineering. He earned his BS and MS degrees in engineering before opting to go to seminary.
As a priest, he served in a variety of diocesan roles, including acting simultaneously as pastor of three small parishes. The Diocese of Marquette serves 50,000 Catholics, and has 55 active diocesan and religious order priests. The Archdiocese of Portland, by contrast, has 415,000 Catholics and 294 priests (including retired priests). It encompasses western Oregon.
Sample is known for his orthodoxy and fondness for a more traditional liturgy. And, according Marquette’s Director of Communications Loreene Koskey, Archbishop-elect Sample is “personable, intelligent, well-spoken, and likes to meet and talk with people.” She added that the promotion of Pope Benedict’s New Evangelization has been a hallmark of Archbishop-elect Sample’s episcopacy.
Sample recently spoke to CWR.
CWR: Were you surprised to discover that you’d been named archbishop of
Sample: Yes. The appointment of bishops is a process that is carried out in strict confidentiality. I had no idea I was being considered for Portland; the nuncio’s call to me informing me I had hit me out of the blue. It was quite a shock; it seems a little surreal.
It’s going to be a huge change, not only geographically but in terms of added responsibility. But I’m also excited. I’m inspired by challenges.
It is going to be hard to say goodbye to Marquette. It’s my home. I’ve served here 22 years as a priest, and seven as a bishop. I’m not an emotional person, but saying goodbye will be emotional.
CWR: Before your appointment, had you ever been to Portland before?