Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Seattle welcomes fifth Catholic archbishop, the Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain

In a service rich in pageantry and cultural diversity — and with occasional flashes of humor — the Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain officially became the new spiritual leader of nearly 1 million Catholics across Western Washington.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain

Age: 58; born in Memphis in 1952.

Education: Bachelor's degrees from St. Meinrad College in Indiana and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome; advanced degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum San Anselmo in Rome.

Ordained: 1978, Diocese of Memphis.

Appointed bishop: Diocese of Little Rock (Arkansas), 2000; Diocese of Joliet (Illinois), 2006.

Archdioceseof Seattle

Catholics: Sartain will oversee some 600,000 registered Catholics in Western Washington, with almost 1 million who consider themselves Catholics.

Schools and parishes: Archdiocese oversees one of state's largest school systems and includes 178 parishes and missions.

Social services: Archdiocese oversees Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services.

advertising

In a service rich in pageantry and cultural diversity — and with occasional flashes of humor — the Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain officially became the new spiritual leader of nearly 1 million Catholics across Western Washington.

Considered a political moderate, the personable Sartain, most recently bishop of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois, was installed as Seattle archbishop at a Mass at St. James Cathedral on Wednesday afternoon.

About 2,200 people — including 20 bishops and three cardinals — attended the service, which came a little more than two months after Pope Benedict XVI appointed Sartain to succeed Archbishop Alex Brunett, who is now retired.

The service included prayers in several languages, including Vietnamese, Tagalog and Polish, as well as drummers from the Lummi Nation. Sartain delivered a portion of his homily in Spanish.

"I wish I could speak all the languages spoken in the Archdiocese of Seattle," said Sartain, 58. "Clearly my brain cannot accomplish such a feat — but through the love of Christ, my heart can. And so can your hearts. Together we will proclaim that the love of God does not know barriers of culture, language or nationality."

The service began at 2 p.m. with a procession of lay Catholics, deacons, priests and bishops.

Then a representative of the Vatican's ambassador to the United States read the pope's official appointment of Sartain. Brunett next asked Sartain if he was willing to serve the people of the archdiocese.

When Sartain replied, "I do accept the pastoral care of the people of God in the Archdiocese of Seattle," applause broke out, continuing as Brunett and the Vatican ambassador's representative escorted Sartain to the bishop's chair.

As the applause continued for several minutes, Sartain at one point removed his glasses to dab at his eyes.

Brunett then handed to Sartain his crosier — a bishop's staff that symbolizes his authority. Brunett wanted to give Sartain the 6-foot-1-inch, 14-pound bronze crosier to remind him of the weight of the office.

The way he carries his crosier, Sartain said in his homily a few moments later, is symbolic of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. When he walks with it, he extends it in front of him.

"That's the way it should be," he said. "Even though I hold the crosier as a symbol of episcopal authority, I am to follow where the crosier leads. I am to follow Jesus."

As archbishop in Seattle, Sartain will oversee the largest of this state's three Catholic dioceses, with 178 parishes and missions and a large social-services operation. The archdiocese has some 600,000 registered Catholics in Western Washington, with almost 1 million who consider themselves Catholics.

Unlike some other dioceses, Seattle's has remained relatively stable financially under Brunett's nearly 13-year tenure, though the recession has left it with little financial cushion.

And while many Catholics here favor liberal causes such as gay marriage and abortion rights, others hold to traditional teachings against those practices. Similar divides exist over such church policies as mandatory celibacy for priests and barring women from the priesthood.

Sartain is also stepping into a Northwest culture that's strongly secular and so — outside of his role within the church — he may not have as much sway as archbishops in other parts of the country.

And he also will have to manage the church's continuing clergy sexual-abuse crisis. Three members of a sex-abuse-victims group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, passed out leaflets Wednesday outside St. James, urging Catholics to pressure Sartain to disclose more details about a priest he ordained in Joliet last year.

That priest had been caught some months earlier with pornography on his computer. Earlier this year, after the priest was accused of sexually abusing a boy, Sartain removed him from his position and has publicly apologized to the boy and his family.

Sartain was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1952, later earning bachelor's degrees from St. Meinrad College in Indiana and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome. He holds an advanced degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum San Anselmo in Rome.

He was named bishop of the Diocese of Joliet in 2006 and before that was bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, Ark. There, Sartain learned Spanish to communicate with Hispanic Catholics and is also credited with helping bring young men into the priesthood.

Though the occasion Wednesday was weighty, there were also lighter moments.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, one of three cardinals who attended along with the Most Rev. Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and the Most Rev. Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., called Sartain "a deeply spiritual man, a loving bishop," and, George added with a chuckle, with "a few faults you'll probably discover on your own in the years to come."

As the service concluded, Sartain thanked those who came, saying: "Lest you be afraid, usually I don't preach as long as I did today."

For many lay Catholics who attended, it was the first time they got to see and hear their new archbishop in person.

"He's very likable," said Colleen Hall, who attends St. Mary Magdalen parish in Everett.

Pia de Solenni, who attends Christ the King parish in North Seattle, came to take part in the honor guard as a member of the Order of Malta, a Catholic order that serves the sick and the poor.

The archbishop has "come to serve us, and we want to serve him," she said. "He is the chief pastor here. It's a very strong bond that Catholics have with their bishop."

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

More Local News headlines...

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.


Get home delivery today!

Advertising