Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne was named the new coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. Etienne will eventually succeed Archbishop Peter Sartain as the Archbishop of Seattle.
Pope Francis made the appointment official as it was announced in a press conference in Seattle on Monday.
As coadjutor, Etienne will assist Archbishop J. Peter Sartain in the administration of the Archdiocese of Seattle, and will succeed Sartain upon his retirement or death. Coadjutor bishops are often appointed when a bishop is in ill health; Sartain has serious back issues, according to the Catholic News Agency. Sartain has serious back trouble.
“About eighteen months ago, I began praying for the Lord’s guidance regarding the possibility of asking the Holy Father to appoint a coadjutor archbishop,” Sartain wrote. In September he wrote to the Pope and requested a coadjutor be appointed, so that he could begin to stage into his retirement.
Sartain said a date for his retirement would be determined later this year.
Etienne, 59, was appointed by Pope Francis to head the Archdiocese of Anchorage in 2016. He had served as a priest in Indianapolis and was the Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Etienne wrote in a blog post April 29 that he is excited and surprised by the announcement of his new appointment, and noted that his time as head of the Anchorage archdiocese the last two and a half years was “too short.”
“While I am excited and surprised by this announcement, I know it will come as a shock to the People of God in the Archdiocese of Anchorage. Our time together has been too short, but I am mindful of a phrase in Sacred Scripture that refers to God’s timing, known as ‘the fullness of time’. That time has now come in God’s plan for new leadership in Anchorage,” he wrote.