In Your Midst
A look at first days of a new Archbishop
April 98

The chair is filled. Empty since the June 26th death of Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy, the cathedra, the chair where the bishop sits, has a successor - the Most Reverend Alexander J. Brunett, Archbishop of the Diocese of Seattle.

Since the celebratory Mass and traditional installation ceremony on December 18th at St. James Cathedral, Archbishop Brunett has been making his way north and south along the I-5 Interstate meeting and praying with Catholics throughout western Washington. He has attended many regional welcoming Masses and has presided at ethnic celebrations including the Filipino-American Simbang Gabi festival at Immaculate Conception Church and the Vietnamese New Year Mass at St. James. He was host to more than 250 religious women at a banquet last month following World Day for Consecrated Life. And he has officiated at confirmations for high school juniors at parishes throughout the archdiocese - a sacrament which he believes should be a high priority in every parish.

As our Archdiocese's spiritual leader, Archbishop Brunett expects to be challenged by what he calls "questions of poverty, wages and dignity of life." The latter means abortion and physician-assisted suicide - both of which he unequivocally opposes - but also, issues all through life. "We have," he says, "to think about children growing up, about integrating teens into the life of the church, about people getting married and parents and older people in critical times when they're sick and dying."

While serving in Helena, Montana, Archbishop Brunett dedicated himself to promoting unity between Christian denominations and other religious. His work on interfaith issues and Christian unity won him a measure of international fame as a papal delegate seeking to bridge defferences between Catholics and Episcopalians. For the past year he has served as chair of the U.S. Bishops Conference committee on ecumenical affairs, working with 11 other faiths, including Jews and Muslims.

In response to the vigorous social outreach program at our parish, Archbishop Brunett offers words of appreciation, encouragement and a call to other parishioners to become involved. The Archbishop believes that when parishioners are out in the world doing Christ's work, the people come, their lives are changed - vocations follow.

Go here to read more about Archbishop Brunett

Joan McDonell, a Seattle Times' editor, is a parishioner at St. James Cathedral, a volunteer and member of the Cathedral Development Committe.

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