Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
A crucifix is prominent on Archbishop Sample's desk.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
A crucifix is prominent on Archbishop Sample's desk.


MARQUETTE, Mich. — Son of a banker, Archbishop Alexander Sample reportedly has natural financial acuity.

"He is good at balancing the budget," says Carol Parker, longtime accountant for the Diocese of Marquette. "If we don't have the money for it, we don't do it."

A banking colleague of the archbishop's father sits on the diocesan finance board and at times has evoked the senior Sample's sound policies during discussions.

The archbishop has been forced to close some parishes because of budget and merged others because he lacked the clergy to cover the many small towns. Most priests already serve three or four churches.

"He did what he had to do," says Paulette Aho, pastoral associate of St. Jude Parish in White Pine, at the far west end of the peninsula. "He did it in a way that didn't offend you. He concerns himself with the feelings of others."

Being an administrator was not on Archbishop Sample's mind as a seminarian and young priest. But he does what must be done. He also finds good people and trusts their judgment.

"All through seminary, your heart is on being a pastor," he says. "I never thought I'd have to learn to read a spreadsheet."