Archbishop Paul D. Etienne has written a letter to the people of the Archdiocese of Seattle on the occasion of his succession of Archbishop J. Peter Sartain as archbishop of Seattle on September 3.
Read the full text of the letter below.
To the people of the Archdiocese of Seattle,
Today the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Archbishop Sartain, who has faithfully served this archdiocese for nine years. I am humbled to follow in his footsteps as your new archbishop.
The first thing people are eager to know is my vision for the archdiocese. I’ve been prayerfully pondering this over the past few months as I’ve begun to get to know the people, history and needs of the archdiocese. Obviously, as your archbishop, I have a role of leadership to play, and giving voice to a vision is important. At the same time, I look forward to a collaborative process of developing a clear mission and vision for the archdiocese with appropriate priorities to fulfill them.
Proclaiming Jesus Christ is the first priority of the Church, and must be ours as well. How are we communicating Christ in action to the world? How do we accomplish this through our ministries? How are we personally living our lives to help others encounter Christ? This comes down to the priorities and values that we have. To me, this is where we need to focus our efforts.
To help align our efforts and make meaningful progress across the archdiocese, we need a strategic pastoral plan. We need to ensure it is not only relevant and actionable, but that it ignites our people and inspires them to lead a Christ-focused life. My goal is to design a robust plan in partnership with you, the people of the Archdiocese of Seattle.
Archdiocesan Pastoral Council
One way to ensure we’re listening to you is to provide more forums for feedback. I would like input from lay representatives across the archdiocese who reflect the diversity of our archdiocese — both culturally and geographically. While the details of such a council are not solidified, I envision a board of elected and/or appointed members who will echo the voices of people in their regions.
I also want to emphasize the importance of community — not just at a fundamental human level, but especially in practicing and handing on the faith.
One of my main concerns — not just for our archdiocese, but for people everywhere — is the lack of community. Isolation is damaging for our parishes, our schools and our people. Living solely as individuals is not Catholic living. Catholics live in community with each other.
We have much to offer one another, especially support in living and giving expression to our faith. Let us be intentional about bringing Christ into every level of our lives, from our friendships, to our marriages, to our families, to our parishes, to our broader communities.
Thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality during my first few months here. Please be patient with me as I continue to learn. Please be honest with me in sharing your hopes and desires for how we can advance God’s kingdom together. Please continue to pray for me and for our archdiocese, and know I will continue to pray for you and for all those entrusted to our care.
In the heart of Christ,
Most Reverend Paul D. Etienne, DD, STL
Archbishop of Seattle