A New Shepherd for Seattle — Volkswagen Dasher

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we look back at the bishops who ministered here in Western

over the past 160 years.


The in the Pacific Northwest is deeply to Francis Xavier Norbert Blanchet, with Father Demers, both natives of was one of the first priests to minister in the Territory, and staunchly believed in a future for the faith here. In when the Holy See designated the an apostolic vicariate, F. N. Blanchet its first bishop. He headed to St. James Cathedral, Montreal, he was consecrated bishop, but afterwards he did not to Oregon. Instead, he went on to to recruit priests and religious for the He spent several months in where, amazingly, he succeeded in the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda to the new apostolic vicariate into an with two suffragan dioceses. Not that, but at his recommendation Father Demers was appointed the first of Vancouver Island, and Blanchet’s own became the first bishop of Walla—later Nesqually—later Seattle.


F. X. N. Blanchet’s faith in his A. M. A. (Augustin Magloire Alexandre) was not Born in 1797, ordained at the age of 23, he was a gifted priest, appointed to posts of trust in his home of Montreal. Upon receiving of his appointment to Walla Walla, he, his brother before him, was bishop in Montreal. He began for the journey west. While his had traveled by sea, A. M. A. Blanchet to take the Oregon Trail. He priests and seminarians, raised and collected supplies, and set out from on March 23, 1847.

The Oregon was something of a baptism by fire for the Blanchet, who (just a few weeks of his 50th birthday) had spent of his years of ministry in the elegant of Montreal’s magnificent Cathedral. He was at the liturgical laxness he encountered in the States (they did not chant in the cathedral at St. Louis!). American men always putting their on the table (“raising their as high as their heads they are sitting down,” the shocked Blanchet). American were rude (“we the opportunity to practice patience and he said). And then there the hardships of the Oregon Trail. Blanchet had to abandon many of his along the way, including a because the exhausted and underfed simply couldn’t pull any farther. There were expenses that ate up almost all the Blanchet had collected back so that he arrived in Walla with almost empty


In Walla there was no rest for the weary No joyful assembly gathered to the new bishop, there was no solemn in the cathedral—in fact, there was no at all. Walla Walla was not a or even a frontier town; it was but a “lonely fur trading post,” a and uncouth fortress” (Schoenberg).

a few months after Blanchet’s the tensions between settlers and peoples exploded in the Whitman The new bishop helped negotiate for the of the captives, and tended the dying, but visiting his brother the Archbishop in City in early 1848, he was access to Walla Walla his return, due to the outbreak of the Cayuse And if that wasn’t enough, the Gold Rush had drained the of resources as settlers and even headed south in search of

In 1848, Archbishop Blanchet to the Sacred Congregation again, a new arrangement of his vast territory, the seat of the northern diocese Walla Walla to the safer region in the west. Approval in 1850, and for the first time his consecration in 1846, Bishop A. M. A. had a stable home, and a cathedral: St. inside the walls of Fort

The blanchet brothers retire

The brothers–Augustin in the north, Francis in the getting on in years. They had to a rough-and-ready frontier, and had gradually order out of chaos, building schools, orphanages and hospitals, priests and religious from Canada, and the east coast of the States, raising funds, and incessantly through their territories by inadequate roads in all and in all dangers. They had witnessed epidemics, wars, and a Gold and had waged their own battles anti-Catholic legislation that threatened to reverse all their advances in the region.

The work its toll on the brothers. At the laying of the of Portland’s cathedral in 1878, it apparent to all that Archbishop was in failing health. Though he at the ceremonies and even took to distribute candy among the children, he was moving slowly, and with a noticeable limp. The were greatly concerned, but not surprised – he was just one month of his 83rd birthday, after A few weeks later, he announced his writing, as he always did, an abundant use of the royal “we.” “It has God to send us… an affliction which our right leg, and rendered difficult the visitations of the remote of our Archdiocese,” he began. He had requested a in 1876, and now, at last, his was on his way: the saintly Bishop of Island, Charles Jean

Never was bishop more for his successor’s arrival! Blanchet a carriage drawn by four horses to the wharf to meet Seghers and bring him to Portland’s in a grand procession. When he at the church, the venerable Archbishop greeted him with these “My Lord Archbishop Coadjutor: day of your reception in this as my coadjutor and future successor is the day of my life.” And the Archbishop really it. In private he said, “I am glad to a coadjutor… I’m going to throw all my on his shoulders.”


before Archbishop Seghers to Portland, in June, 1879, Blanchet of Nesqually quietly his resignation as well, which was nunc pro tunc . which that he would continue as of the diocese until a successor be appointed.

F. X. N. Blanchet had waited for his replacement to arrive; A. M. A. had to wait a few weeks. On August 6, 1879, Aegidius Junger was appointed the Bishop of Nesqually. He was well-known to Blanchet brothers, having for several years as Vicar-General for the of Portland. He was consecrated at St. James, on October 28, 1879. As far as episcopal go, it was a simple ceremony – just the two were present as consecrators, of the customary three bishops.

But was well-suited to Junger, who was, by all a quiet and humble man. He the peace of the Walla Walla to the growing cities of the western of his territory. He loved serving the especially the children, but he did not excel at the negotiations over land and which were also of the bishop’s responsibility. The latter of his ministry were somewhat by a lengthy legal battle 640 acres of land in downtown the site of the original St. James a battle which the diocese lost.

But Junger never He worked and traveled tirelessly, as his health gave way. two weeks before he died, he the Holy Names Sisters in celebrating Benediction of the Blessed in their Chapel. On his return to the famous Mother Joseph him to stay at Providence Hospital to be for by the Sisters. But it was too late: the Bishop suddenly on December 26, 1895, Mother Joseph at his side, but his Vicar General, Father or his doctor could be summoned. He was 62 years old. He was buried in the he had proudly built in Vancouver, and the new year preparations to receive his were underway.


Bishop unexpected death on the day after 1895, left the diocese of without a shepherd. Many of priests to succeed Bishop were suggested and discussed, but three emerged as the front There was the famous Father Hylebos of Tacoma—the pioneer. was Father Peter Yorke of San – the firebrand. And there was Father O’Dea of Portland—the boy.

was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in but as a child moved with his to the west coast, settling in San Francisco, and then in Portland. vocation to the priesthood was nurtured an early age by the venerable Archbishop of Portland and by the famous Mother of the Sisters of Providence, who was a friend of family. He studied at the Grand in Montreal, and was ordained at 26. He became to Archbishop Gross and served at the cathedral for a number of years, and as pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in

O’Dea must have that he was rumored for Nesqually, but it came as quite a shock a newspaper reporter came at his rectory door in July of “We have a dispatch from saying you have been Bishop of Nesqually; have you to say?” O’Dea replied characteristic circumspection: “I haven’t a to say, and this is the first I heard of it.” But in this rumor spoke true, and the was officially announced on July 23,

The Archives of the Archdiocese of Seattle a scrapbook in which O’Dea carefully kept the dozens of telegrams and letters he received, with newspaper clippings newspapers large and small all over the Northwest. He was a popular and the messages of congratulation are exude enthusiasm. “Ten thousand ten thousand congratulations, ad multos ,” wrote a friend from San “Thank God it has been thus by Providence,” wrote an Irish of Spokane. “I do not know when I ever read an announcement in the paper that has pleased me than the account I read of appointment this morning,” a Portland parishioner. “In every home in the Great State of this is a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving,” an exuberant Tacoma man. mounted on its own page in the scrapbook is an penned letter from Rose of Lima of the Holy “Claiming the privilege of a former I hasten to convey to your heartfelt congratulations blended esteem.”

Even the newspapers enthusiastic about the appointment. A paper reported, “Rev. O’Dea is a man of decidedly pleasing and address. He is rather tall and and looks scarcely 30, though he is 40…. Father O’Dea is one of the most popular Catholic of the Northwest.” (This was probably the occasion on which O’Dea was described as “tall”!) The article on to explain how bishops were in the Catholic Church: three were submitted to Rome the Latin designations dignus . . and dignissimus —worthy, more and most worthy. O’Dea, the confidently states, was the most “By ‘dignissimus’ is doubtless conveyed the of ‘all around best

Not everyone was delighted at O’Dea’s however. Some of the veterans of the of Nesqually felt that who was just 39 at the time of his appointment, both experience and understanding to the diocese well. But Father himself felt differently. He was the first to write to O’Dea, “I welcome you to the highest position in our from my very heart, in all and with the best of wishes. I openly tell you that the name of Father Schram and had been on the lips of many in connection with the succession to Rt. Junger, it is just right to it to neither of us: I have prayed to effect, and I take solid in your appointment. Now you know how I stand.”

After a tearful farewell in O’Dea was consecrated Bishop of at St. James Cathedral, Vancouver, on 8, 1896. The vestments he wore had prepared by the loving hands of the with whom he had worked in Mother Joseph herself the slippers he would use during the while the Holy Names provided his gold miter and alb.

And then the work Young though he was, quickly won the respect of priests and alike when he reopened the James Mission Case”—the that had been the bane of Bishop Junger’s administration—and won from the United States a settlement of $25,000. People realized that this young gentleman was also an to be reckoned with!

Interestingly, the letters Bishop O’Dea in his scrapbook are three of a different Prominent businessmen and clergy of Spokane, and Seattle all wrote to in that first month his appointment, urging him to move his and his see to their cities. Tacoma of its healthful climate, beautiful and magnificent homes. Spokane was the city in the state. But Seattle was faster than either of The youthful Bishop of Nesqually had his work cut out for him: enough to him busy for thirty-seven long and years of ministry.


When Bishop O’Dea died on Christmas 1932, he had led the Church in Seattle for 37 He wasn’t just a bishop; he was the The rain and clouds of a Northwest that marked his funeral day to portend a gloomy future.

It be several months before a to Bishop O’Dea was named. this period—called the sede . or “empty chair”—one-time Cathedral Msgr. William Noonan as administrator of the diocese. As always, was rife about who O’Dea’s might be. Seattle priests had hopes set on Bishop John a Maryknoll missionary serving in Few Seattleites had even heard of Gerald Shaughnessy, SM.

Shaughnessy was a east coast man, in Massachusetts in 1887. He attended schools and then graduated Boston College, later the Marists (he proudly retained his initials, “S. M.,” even he became a bishop). He was ordained at the rather late age of 33, and in 1925 his doctorate. (His dissertation, studied the retention of the Catholic among immigrant populations in the was later published under the Has the Immigrant Kept the Faith?) He worked in the office of the Apostolic (the Pope’s representative in the States), and taught courses at University. Shaughnessy was happy in his as a bureaucrat and academic, and looked to a long career in the capital.

But was not to be. On July 3, 1933, he received that Pope Pius XI had him Bishop of Seattle. His first was alarm. “You will me for writing in English, [rather Latin],” he said in a letter to the General of his order. “As it is I can hardly even in that language I contemplate my appointment to Seattle.” He had been to Seattle—the closest he had was a visit to California and a short as a teacher in Anaconda, Montana. To his beloved Marist community and up residence and leadership among strangers was a frightening prospect. And yet was hope as well. “I have to that God has led the Holy Father to me for this work; and I cannot that God will give me the grace if I but try at least in some measure to deserve it.” As a servant to the Church, Shaughnessy the new assignment. It is no accident that he for his episcopal motto the single Fiat, for he had struggled to echo “yes” to God.

Shaughnessy was consecrated a bishop in the of the National Shrine of the Immaculate in Washington, D.C. on September 19, and then headed west for his installation on October 10, 1933—he be the first of our bishops to be installed at St. Cathedral. Msgr. Noonan, Msgr. Stafford, the Cathedral’s planned a series of events would demonstrate to the new bishop though far away, Seattle was far from provincial. Everything was with care, from the for the Mass (the incomparable choir of men and boys), to the menu for the (which started with Supreme” and ended with Jubilaire”). There were to greet him at train stations all the state. Upon his arrival at Street Station, he was taken to the Cathedral, which was packed children from across the who joyfully welcomed him and received his blessing.

Throughout the events, as they were, Bishop cast a long shadow. He was to replace, and difficult to follow. holy life, his intelligent, devotion to duty are fresh in the of all,” said Msgr. at the opening reception for the new bishop. the brightest pages in the history of the Church in America, must be those in which glitters the of Edward John O’Dea”!

Shaughnessy had big shoes to fill, and daunting challenges ahead of His meticulous administration and careful would carry the Diocese of through the years of depression and


Shaughnessy worked incessantly to dig the of Seattle out of debt and put it on a sound once again. He brought the Church through the Depression and the World War. He was closely in all aspects of the Church’s life, and he was to make unpopular decisions.

But the during Seattle’s lean was not destined to be the bishop during the boom. In November of 1945, as he from the United States Meeting in Washington, DC, Bishop suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was off the train in Jersey City. The man who to Seattle a few weeks later was not the man who had left it. The only person who unaware of his broken condition was Shaughnessy himself. He forced back into his usual routine. Further strokes and before long Bishop was confined to his residence on Boren Still he insisted he was able to all the business of the Chancery. It is said his correspondence piled up, unopened, for an year.


responded in 1948 by appointing a bishop—a first for Seattle. A is appointed to assist a bishop, and has the right of succession. The chosen man was Thomas A. Connolly (“TAC” to his Auxiliary of San Francisco—charming, popular, effective, the beloved pastor of the Mission Dolores and trusted to two San Francisco Archbishops—Hanna and Mitty.

The went all out to welcome its coadjutor and bishop. It was a hero’s welcome, as the ‘greatest generation’ knew so how to provide. On April 20, 1948, the new came from San Francisco in a car of the Cascade Limited, along more than two dozen including bishops who would part in the installation in Seattle. In the first stop in his new diocese, was quite a ceremony as 600 children onto the platform to greet him of them holding colored spelling the word W-E-L-C-O-M-E), a first-grader presented him with a of red roses. He was then greeted by the of St. James, Vancouver, and treated to a history of the city, with reference to the fact that it had been the see city of the diocese. Connolly won the affection of the children by announcing a school holiday, and got back on the train. All of this in a whistle stop!

At every stop along the Kelso, Castle Rock, and Olympia—delegations were at the station to the new bishop. Upon arrival at Street Station, Bishop went straight to the bishop’s at the corner of Spring and Boren to with Bishop Shaughnessy, who was too ill to be for any of the installation festivities. From he proceeded to the Chancery to meet the consultors.

The installation itself was of grandeur. The decorations were the most elaborate anyone had since those long-ago before the Great Depression. A American flag flew the towers of the Cathedral, and papal and banners hung from the of the nave. The altar was adorned banks of spring flowers, and was even “a huge replica of the coat of arms formed of and white flowers.”

More an hour before the liturgy every available seat in the was full—1600 crammed inside, another 500 waited outside to the immense procession of 45 Knights of 251 priests, 16 monsignors, 3 archbishops, and 10 wind its way around the block and the Cathedral. The new bishop did not disappoint. The enthused, “Bishop Connolly to the altar and for the first time his assembled in the Cathedral heard and to his rich voice raised in a of prayer for them.” And his first to them gave them “I look forward to my labors you with great anticipation and As for the future, I find it attractive, and radiantly hopeful. It unfolds an of almost limitless achievement!”

the liturgy of installation was concluded, was a banquet at the Olympic Hotel, and a few later a civic reception was for the new coadjutor in Seattle’s Municipal Amazingly, the crowd that to welcome Bishop Connolly was the in the venue’s history. All 6,500 in the auditorium itself were while 1,500 more a smaller basement auditorium, they would be able to the speeches. Another 2,000 people stood outside in the in spite of rain and then (on 25!) hail and snow. The the mayor, judges, business the orchestra of Holy Names and the 134 girls of the Holy Rosary short, everyone who was anyone—came to the new bishop. Clearly, the arrival of Connolly was not just a Catholic but a civic moment. In his youth and Bishop Connolly seemed to the hopes of a triumphant new generation.


Connolly led the Church in Seattle for thirty years. Like O’Dea before him, he was a bishop who left a legacy of new schools, hospitals, and retreat across the Archdiocese. But by the time he in 1975, it was clear that the times were over. The was suffering as people migrated to the and Catholic schools were hit (the Cathedral School was to close in 1971). The nation was in a slow, recession and many institutions were struggling.

Connolly’s successor—whose years as of Seattle would be marked by joy, and by many difficult Raymond G. Hunthausen, Bishop of Montana. Hunthausen was a Northwest born in Anaconda, Montana, and in Seattle remembered him, as he had his seminary studies at St. Edward’s in Kenmore. But what would he be as a bishop and leader? And what new and ideas would he bring to the of Seattle? To find out, the sent reporter Paul to Helena to “live in the prelate’s pocket” for the weekend.

That weekend was quite a The revelations began when the climbed off the plane at the Helena and found the Archbishop-designate waiting to him in person. “I had expected to be met by a priest-member of the staff, or a secretary,” he wrote. “I was flattered to have a member of the hierarchy take my luggage in one and my elbow in the other as he piloted me his car,” a Volkswagen Dasher!

And the continued. Bishop Hunthausen simply, in a small apartment on the floor of Helena’s Chancery He was a family man, devoted to his Edna, beloved of his brothers and and literally dozens of nieces and He loved sports, and was an avid He had a varied background and a wide of interests. He had taught chemistry at College in Helena (in addition to football, basketball, baseball, and golf) and later served as president before being Bishop of Helena by Pope XXIII in July of 1962. He was a bishop just in time to the first session of the Second Council in October, 1962.

at home, Bishop Hunthausen began the work of implementing the teachings, establishing a Diocesan Council and many other groups. And he listened, preferring to decisions through consensus. was active in establishing ecumenical among Christian denominations in And he had already become a nationally-recognized for peace, advocating for nuclear

Archbishop Hunthausen was installed as the Archbishop, sixth bishop of at the Seattle Center Arena on May 22, Archbishop Jean Jadot, the Father’s Delegate, read the Mandate, the official document Hunthausen Archbishop of Seattle. in keeping with long the Consultors of the Archdiocese inspected the and then showed it to the people for acceptance. Only then did Jadot and Archbishop Connolly lead Archbishop Hunthausen to the (moved to the Arena for the purpose!), and him with the crosier, the sign of the office.

Father Ryan was a priest at the time, assisting as of ceremonies for the installation rites. He that Archbishop Hunthausen extemporaneously, without any notes. He by asking the entire assembly to with him in silence to the Holy so that he might say what to be said. “It was a new moment,” Father recalls.

Archbishop Hunthausen quite simply of his dreams for the in Western Washington. “I pray we might truly be a loving who recognize that if peace is to into our world, it must with ourselves, at peace God, and at peace with one I pray that we might we have a mission and that we be serious about it. To be a Christian, a of Jesus Christ, has to be the most thing in our lives. I pray we can put aside the polarization in today’s I pray that we can bring the of unity so that the entire family will see that we are one with the Lord.” He quoted the of another bishop, St. Augustine, to his “If, then, I am gladder by far to be with you than I am to be placed you, I shall, as the Lord commanded, be more completely servant.” In his sixteen years as of Seattle, Archbishop Hunthausen make those words his

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