Memphian Bishop Sartain appointed to lead Seattle-area Catholic archdiocese

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Memphis native Bishop J. Peter Sartain was appointed today as archbishop of western Washington. He'll lead 600,000 Catholics in cities like Seattle and Tacoma, becoming, at age 58, the youngest archbishop in the United States.

Sartain has been most recently bishop of Joliet, Ill., and before that was bishop of Little Rock and pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church in East Memphis.

In an excellent column, Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com comments on the challenges that Sartain will face in the Pacific Northwest, "one of America's least 'churched' regions."

He'll need to adapt to our way of doing business here: Everybody gets consulted about everything. Barriers get bypassed. St. James Cathedral has hosted burial services for an Episcopalian congresswoman (Jennifer Dunn) and a gay state senator (Cal Anderson).

With suspicious, hostile secularists -- a notable media presence here -- Sartain will find he has no room for clerical error.

Initial reaction in Washington and in the local church seems positive so far, Connelly adds:

The welcoming mass at St. James on Thursday saw palpable relief that the Vatican has not sent a hard-line "enforcer" visit. Private clerical reactions to the Sartain appointment ranged from "cautiously hopeful" to "a great guy."


2 Comments

I was fortunate to have Archbishop Sartain as our priest in Memphis. He is a calm, wise priest. Whoever has him as their leader is certainly lucky.

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