Catholic Sentinel photo by Jon DeBellis
Planning is underway for the installation of Archbishop Alexander Sample.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Jon DeBellis
Planning is underway for the installation of Archbishop Alexander Sample.

Thousands will be in attendance from the surrounding region and all over the country as Archbishop Alexander Sample is installed as leader of the Archdiocese of Portland on Tuesday, April 2.

Behind the historical event is a planning committee of just two-dozen representatives from the archdiocese.

At the helm is chairman Todd Cooper, special assistant to Archbishop John G. Vlazny.

“Hospitality is our number one goal,” Cooper said. “We want to welcome [Archbishop Sample] with open arms and open hearts.”

Cooper, Archbishop Vlazny and other pastoral staff worked together to assemble a team that represents a broad range of skills and Church communities.

One of the biggest challenges was keeping the team at a manageable size — there were so many talented people who wanted to help, Cooper said.

Each committee member will call on other volunteers to assist.

“Our plan as a committee is to involve as many other people as possible,” Cooper said. “We’re already pulling people in from the larger diocesan community to help.”

Volunteers will coordinate two primary events — the public installation and reception at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus, and a private Vespers service and banquet. Teams will handle everything from webcasting at the installation to picking out catering for the public reception.

As is customary, all 455 Catholic bishops in the United States were invited, so Cooper expects there will be a representative group of active and retired bishops from around the country flying in for the installation and related events.

The private banquet will be a time for visiting bishops, some local priests and the new archbishop’s family and friends from Marquette, Mich., to mix and meet one another.

Important visitors will be treated to food and wine that offer a taste of Oregon. 

Holy Names Sister Rita Vistica and Subhuti Lichtman volunteered to serve as St. Mary Cathedral liaisons. They will help prepare the church for the Vespers service, as well as assisting with other installation duties.  This will be Sister Rita’s seventh welcome for an incoming bishop. She is a retired college professor who now volunteers at the Cathedral.

Coincidentally, the pope to follow Pope Benedict this month will be the seventh she’s known in her lifetime. 

Preparing the sacristy is part of her ministry at the Cathedral, so Sister Rita will help with this task during the Vespers service and Installation Mass and several of the Masses attended by the bishops during the week of the installation. 
“Anything the church is involved in, I’m there, because this church is so important to me,” she said.

Committee member To-ha Doan, a parish leader at Our Lady of La Vang Church, will facilitate involvement from the Southeast Asian Vicariate. She said it is an honor to be involved in a new chapter in the archdiocese’s history.

“It’s not every day that happens and I am excited for the Catholic Church in Western Oregon,” she said.

“I also wanted to help give Archbishop Sample the best Pacific Northwest welcome.”

Bill Reed, director of events at the University of Portland, was a natural choice as representative for the school where the installation will take place.

Large-scale events are hosted at UP often, Reed said, so they feel ready for the big day. The installation ceremony and Mass will be webcast, which will allow people from all over the world to view the Mass online.

Reed hopes to enable technology so viewers can ask questions in real time. That way, he said, students and other people who have never before witnessed an installation can learn more about the meaning behind the ceremony.