Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Archbishop Alexander Sample marks 25 years as a priest

6/23/2015 3:22:00 PM

Rick Keating/El Centinela
Archbishop Alexander Sample accepts a gift from Fátima Rodas at the St. Juan Diego Congress in Turner.

Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel
Archbishop Alexander Sample says his 25th anniversary of ordination is no more important than anyone else’s.

“I could not be more grateful to Almighty God for the tremendous blessing he has bestowed on me during these past 25 years,” Archbishop Sample says. “One of the greatest blessings has been the many people he has placed in my life and allowed me to serve.”

He was raised in Nevada, the youngest of three. A teacher-priest told the 17-year-old he had a vocation to priesthood. But first, young Alex studied metallurgical engineering at Michigan Tech. Then, before pursuing a post-doctorate degree, he stunned professors by announcing plans for seminary.

He studied at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. and the Pontifical College Josephinum Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. After ordination for the Diocese of Marquette, he served as associate pastor of St. Peter Cathedral and then was pastor of area parishes. He studied canon law at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

During his seven-year tenure as bishop of Marquette, 2006-2013, he wrote four pastoral letters, undertook a $10 million capital campaign, set in place a unified catechesis, and developed plans to secure Catholic schools.

He was named Archbishop of Portland in 2013. Here, he has identified pastoral priorities, visited parishes, prisons and migrant camps, spoken out against abortion and the death penalty and catechized on marriage. In homilies to new priests and deacons, Archbishop Sample says ministry is about Jesus, not gaining recognition.

“I feel a great and awesome holiness about him,” says Angie Doyen, secretary at St. Anthony Parish in Gwinn, Mich. “He has been a courageous priest who clearly desires to reach and inspire his flock through his powerful words and prayerful, humble actions.”

Denise Foye, director of faith formation for the Diocese of Marquette, calls him “truly a remarkable teacher of our beloved faith.” Her abiding memory is of the future archbishop teaching people who wanted to become Catholic.

“He is quite simply a fine pastor, full of compassion while upholding truth,” say Francis and Theresa Darr, who belong to St. Peter Cathedral Parish in Marquette.

“He is the kind of priest who boldly and unreservedly speaks the truth at all times, but always tempered with love,” say Todd and Susan Rapavi, members of St. Peter Cathedral.

Archbishop Sample cites a retreat director who told western Oregon clergy that priesthood is a mission worthy of their existence. “This is a great life!” Archbishop Sample says. “I hope many young men will respond to the Lord’s call to serve him as a priest.”

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