Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Ore., and named as his successor Bishop Alexander K. Sample of Marquette, Mich.
Archbishop Vlazny, who has headed the Oregon archdiocese since 1997, is 75, which is the age bishops are required by canon law to submit their resignation to the pope. Archbishop Sample, 52, has been Marquette’s bishop for eight years.
The changes were announced in Washington Jan. 29 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, papal nuncio to the U.S.
A native of Kalispell, Mont., Archbishop Sample was born Nov. 7, 1960. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Marquette in 1990. He was named chancellor of the diocese in 1996. In 2005, he was named bishop of Marquette.
He holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees in metallurgical engineering from Michigan Technological University in Houghton and a licentiate in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas, known as the Angelicum.
He is vice postulator for the sainthood cause for the Marquette Diocese’s first bishop, Bishop Frederic Baraga, a 19th-century missionary who ministered to miners and Native Americans on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
On the national level, Archbishop Sample is a member of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittees on Native American Catholics and on the Catechism.
Archbishop Vlazny, born in Chicago Feb. 22, 1937, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1961. He was named an auxiliary bishop of Chicago in 1983, and bishop of Winona, Minn., 1987 and 10 years later was appointed to Portland.
He has been chairman of a number of U.S. bishops’ committees, including the vocations, evangelization and the national collections. He has been a member of many others, including the Administrative Committee and the Committee on Migration and Refugee Services.
He holds a licentiate in sacred theology from the Gregorian University, Rome; a master of arts degree in the classics from the University of Michigan and a master of education degree in educational administration from Loyola University, Chicago.
The Portland archdiocese was founded as the Archdiocese of Oregon City July 24, 1846. It is the second oldest archdiocese in the United States after Baltimore. The name was changed to the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon Sept. 26, 1928, by papal decree.
The territory of the archdiocese covers western Oregon, stretching east and west from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and north and south to Washington state and California. It has 124 parishes and a Catholic population of more than 415,000 out of a total population of about 3.3 million people.