Seattle, Archdiocese of
Seattle, Archdiocese of
SEATTLE, ARCHDIOCESE OF
Metropolitan see in the state of Washington, bounded by the Canadian border on the north, the Columbia River on the south, and extending from the crest of the Cascades on the east to the Pacific Ocean, an area of 24,834 square miles. In 2001 there were 525,040 Catholics in a total population of 4,526,200. It was erected May 31, 1850, as the Diocese of Nesqually, but was renamed the Diocese of Seattle (Seattlensis ) on Sept. 11, 1907; it became an archdiocese June 23, 1951 and the metropolitan see of the Seattle Province, with dioceses of Spokane and Yakima as its suffragan sees.
First Missionaries. The area's Catholic history began with the arrival at Fort Vancouver on Nov. 24, 1838, of two missionary priests, Francis Norbert blanchet and Modeste Demers, who had been sent from the Diocese of Quebec, Canada, in answer to the repeated requests of the Canadian and Iroquois employees of the Hudson's Bay Company. There Mass was celebrated for the first time by Blanchet, vicar-general of the new mission, which numbered 26 Catholics, Canadian and Iroquois. Within a short time, Demers learned the Chinook language, began to instruct the native residents, translated the most important prayers, and composed hymns. From Vancouver, Blanchet visited the Catholics at Cowlitz, where several delegations of Native Americans came to hear and see the Blackgown. To instruct the native peoples, Blanchet hit upon a singularly effective device called the Catholic ladder. Taking a flat board, he drew 40 marks to represent the 40 centuries before Christ. With 33 points, he indicated the 33 years of Christ's life. A cross recalled the Redemption. Eighteen marks and 39 points represented the years since the birth of Christ. At either side of this symbolic outline of Church history, the missionary graphically represented important Christian doctrines. The use of the Catholic ladder spread widely and rapidly.
Demers followed the route of the hunters and trappers, visiting settlements and stopping at Nesqually, Walla Walla, and Colville. Within a few years, the company's chief factor, James Douglas, permitted the missionaries to make foundations south of the Columbia. In 1842 Pierre Jean de smet, SJ, arrived at Vancouver from the northeast section of the Oregon Territory, where he had been sent by the bishop of St. Louis, Mo., to work among the native peoples. At a conference of the missionaries, it was decided that De Smet would try to enlist additional workers in St. Louis and Belgium and also bring to the attention of ecclesiastical authorities the need for a bishop in the Oregon Country. His mission succeeded: De Smet returned to Oregon with more helpers and on Dec. 1, 1843, the Oregon mission was made a vicariate apostolic with Blanchet as vicar apostolic.
After his consecration in Montreal, Canada, on July 25, 1845, Blanchet sailed for Europe to enlist assistance for his vicariate and to lay its needs before the Holy See. On July 24, 1846, Plus IX named him archbishop of the new Province of Oregon City; his brother Augustine Magloire Alexander Blanchet was appointed bishop of the newly established Diocese of Walla Walla; and Father Demers was named bishop of Vancouver Island.
Augustine Blanchet. The first and only bishop of Walla Walla, who in 1850 became the first bishop of Nesqually, was born near St. Pierre Riviere du Sud, Canada. He was ordained on June 3, 1821, became a canon of the Cathedral of St. James in Montreal, and was consecrated bishop of Walla Walla on Sept. 27, 1846. When he left Canada, he had with him only one priest for his new jurisdiction, John brouillet; but four others, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, joined him later. In the northeastern part of the diocese five Jesuits worked among the native populations. Shortly after Blanchet's arrival in his diocese—which included eastern Washington and eastern Oregon, the state of Idaho, that portion of Montana west of the Rockies, and the northwest corner of Wyoming— the Protestant missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman was murdered
on Nov. 29, 1847. Because of the hostilities resulting from this crime and its punishment, the presence of non-natives at Walla Walla and its vicinity was forbidden, so the bishop established his headquarters at the Dalles.
In 1850, after the bishop had petitioned the Holy See to move his headquarters to Ft. Nesqually near Vancouver, Rome officially made the territory of Nesqually a diocese. This region, until 1850 subject to the Archdiocese of Oregon City, included the territory west of the Cascade Mountains and north of the Columbia. When appointed bishop of Nesqually, Blanchet decided to establish his cathedral at Vancouver, where it remained until 1907. Among those who worked under him for the welfare of the diocese were Fathers John Brouillet, Charles Marie Pandosy, and Eugene Casimer Chirouse, and the Sisters of Charity of Providence. The first Mass was said in the city of Seattle in 1852 by Bishop Demers. In 1853 the Diocese of Walla Walla was suppressed and Nesqually acquired that part of its territory west of the Rockies, north of the Columbia and the 46th degree of latitude. In 1868 the creation of the Vicariate Apostolic of Idaho further reduced the area of the diocese, confining it to the limits of the state of Washington. When Blanchet resigned in 1879 he was named titular bishop of Ibara; he died Feb. 25, 1887.
Junger and O'Dea. Blanchet's successor, Aegidius Junger, who had served the diocese since ordination, was consecrated on Oct. 28, 1879. An earnest worker, fluent in English, French, and German, the new bishop directed the diocese well during a period when Washington became a state and the Catholic population increased from 12,000 to 30,000. To care for parishes and missions, the bishop sought the help of Jesuits, Redemptorists, and Benedictines. The Sisters of the Holy Names, Dominicans, Good Shepherd, and Franciscan Sisters undertook the direction of new schools in various parts of the diocese. The Brothers of Our Lady of Lourdes staffed a school in Seattle. Under Junger 60 new churches, including a cathedral, were built, and 15 parish schools, two schools for Native Americans, and three colleges begun.
Junger died on Dec. 26, 1895, and Edward John O'Dea was consecrated at Vancouver, Wash., on Sept. 8,1896. The problems facing the young bishop were enormous; among these were heavy debts on the cathedral and diocese, and a great financial depression throughout the country. The pastors and their people generously cooperated with the bishop to meet the financial problem. In response to the bishop's appeal to other dioceses throughout the country and in Europe for priests for his ever-increasing flock, volunteers arrived, many of them from Ireland.
When the first years of the 20th century brought a change in the center of state activities to Seattle, Bishop O'Dea found it increasingly difficult to administer the diocese from Vancouver. Accordingly, he made Seattle the cathedral city, built St. James Cathedral, and dedicated it on Dec. 22, 1907, announcing the official change in title of the diocese from Nesqually to Seattle. A few years later, the increasing population of eastern Washington impelled O'Dea to recommend to Rome the establishment of a new diocese in that part of the state and on Dec. 17, 1913, the Diocese of Spokane was created. The line of division, north and south, nearly coincided with the 120th meridian and the north and south course of the Columbia River. In 1928 the bishop decided to establish a seminary in Seattle under the Sulpicians, a project the bishops of the province had approved in 1917. The first students were admitted to the new St. Edward's Seminary on Sept. 15, 1931. O'Dea survived the completion of his work only a year, dying Dec. 25, 1932. During his tenure the number of Catholics in the diocese had increased from about 42,000 to 100,000, diocesan priests from 40 to 113, the regular clergy from 29 to 123, and churches from 42 to 90.
Shaughnessy and Connolly. On July 1, 1933, Pius XI appointed Gerald shaughnessy, SM, bishop of Seattle. Without delay, he set about strengthening the financial structure of the diocese. He also sought and obtained priests from other sections of the country and from Europe, and founded the serra international for help in recruiting and supporting seminarians. The years of Shaughnessy's administration were important for the consolidation and organization of diocesan affairs rather than for the multiplication of buildings. He suffered a serious cerebral hemorrhage in 1945 and, after several years of enforced inactivity, died on May 18, 1950.
In February 1948, upon Shaughnessy's petition, Rome had appointed Bp. Thomas A. Connolly, auxiliary of San Francisco, as coadjutor bishop of Seattle with the right of succession. Connolly, once chancellor of the archdiocese of San Francisco and pastor of the historic Mission Dolores parish there, had been consecrated in San Francisco on Aug. 24, 1939. Soon after his arrival in Seattle, he began to make plans for celebrating the centenary of the diocese. Missions were preached in all parishes as part of the spiritual program, and work on the renovation of the cathedral was begun. A pilgrimage, led by Bishop Connolly, journeyed to Rome to unite the jubilee of Seattle with that of the Universal Church. On Sept. 14, 1950, Amleto Cicognani, then apostolic delegate to the U.S., celebrated the centennial Mass of thanksgiving in the presence of the largest gathering of the hierarchy the Pacific Northwest had yet seen.
The next year, Pope Pius XII created a new ecclesiastical province in the Northwest (June 23, 1951); Seattle became the metropolitan see of the new province and Connolly the first archbishop. At the same time Pius XII created the Diocese of Yakima from parts of Spokane and of Seattle and appointed the Most Reverend Joseph P. Dougherty, chancellor in Seattle, as ordinary of the new suffragan see. During the next few years, it became more and more difficult for Archbishop Connolly to perform all episcopal functions and attend to the multiplying details of administration. In 1956 Rome appointed Thomas E. Gill, rector of St. James Cathedral and archdiocesan director of Catholic Charities, as auxiliary bishop of Seattle.
To provide the laity with retreat facilities all year round, Connolly undertook the construction of two retreat houses. Numerous educational institutions of the archdiocese were established also under Connolly's direction, among them Blanchet High School, Seattle (1955), and the major seminary of St. Thomas the Apostle, Kenmore (1958). The first, a coinstructional school for 1,500 students, is directed by priests of the archdiocese, assisted by sisters of various communities and by lay teachers. The new seminary' building was dedicated on April 14, 1959, by Cardinal James McIntyre of Los Angeles, Calif., the first students having been received the preceding September. Connolly's record of accomplishment included the establishment of 26 parishes, 30 schools, and an extensive building program.
Connolly retired because of age and on Feb. 25, 1975, Raymond G. Hunthausen (1975–91) became the second archbishop of Seattle. As bishop of Great Falls, Mont., Hunthausen was the youngest bishop in attendance at the Second Vatican Council. Inspired by the ecclesiology of Vatican II he moved to instill in the archdiocese a vision of the local church as a communion of communions (parishes). He promoted formation of the laity, engaged extensively in ecumenical conversation, and participated in tax resistance as a protest against nuclear weapons. His commitment to peace, including nuclear disarmament, garnered international attention. It inspired many inside and outside the church, and evoked opposition in a state with a heavy military presence. In the 1980s, the Holy See investigated allegations of liturgical and doctrinal irregularities in the archdiocese. Chicago-born Thomas J. Murphy, who had been bishop of Great Falls since 1978, was appointed coadjutor archbishop in 1987 and became third archbishop of Seattle when Archbishop Hunthausen retired in 1991.
After Archbishop Murphy died of leukemia in June 1997, Bishop Alexander J. Brunett, since 1994 the bishop of Helena, was installed as his successor. Archbishop Brunett committed himself to the participative leadership style of his two predecessors and to fostering collaboration among the parishes and other agencies of the archdioceses.
Bibliography: d. buerge and j. rochester, Roots and Branches (Seattle 1988). p. o'connell killen, "The Geography of a Minority Religion: Roman Catholicism in the Pacific Northwest," U.S. Catholic Historian 18/3 (Summer 2000): 51–72. w. schoenberg, A History of the Catholic Church in the Pacific Northwest, 1743–1983 (Washington, D.C. 1987). c. a. schwantes, The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History (Lincoln 1996). c. taylor, ed., Abundance of Grace: A History of the Archdiocese of Seattle 1850–2000 (Strasbourg, France 2000).