1997 • Pope John Paul taps Bishop John Vlazny of Winona, Minn., as leader of second oldest archdiocese in U.S. • Oregon’s assisted suicide law takes effect. • The new archbishop celebrates Spanish-language Christmas eve Mass in Cornelius.
1998 • “Being a partner in the work of spreading the Gospel and building up the community of believers is a call rooted in our baptism,” archbishop says at installation Mass. • First assisted-suicide deaths. Archbishop says no one who is dying should feel abandoned. • Archbishop presides at open-air Cinco de Mayo Mass in downtown. He’s invited to speak at City Club, where he promotes anti-poverty work. • Shooting in Springfield school. “Today I pray that your anger will not overwhelm your compassion,” he says. • Archbishop celebrates Mass for World AIDS Day.
1999 • “Every time a physician writes a prescription for lethal medication, we are confronted again with our failure to offer compassionate care,” Archbishop says as assisted suicides continue. • Archbishop blesses new Macdonald Center, one of several assisted living projects opened in part because of his encouragement. • Archbishop commissions dozens of Spanish-speaking laity as evangelizers. • Archbishop blesses plans for North Portland Catholic high school to educate low-income students.
2000 • Jubilee celebration includes urban processions, Mass for thousands at sports arena. It ranks as one of the archbishop’s best memories. • Archbishop leads pilgrimages, one to Rome, another to Catholic historic sites in western Oregon. He travels state holding prayer breakfasts with parishioners. • Oregon Catholic Conference backs initiative to require criminal background checks at gun shows. • Disciples in Mission — home scripture study and formation for discipleship — offered at parishes. • Archbishop establishes lay-dominated council charged with helping guide Catholic ministry.
2001 • Columbia River Pastoral letter, signed by archbishop, calls for care of watershed. • Formation for lay ministers revised and solidified. • Four priests ordained. • Church-led Campaign for Fairness seeks to prevent having Oregon budget balanced on backs of poor. Archbishop leads march to Capitol. • Archbishop speaks out for justice for farmworkers. • After Sept. 11 attacks, archbishop urges prayers for peace. • Archbishop chairs bishops’ committee on women in the church. He is also liaison between the bishops and the National Council of Catholic Women.
2002 • Archbishop hosts retreat for young men considering priesthood. • Welcoming 1,200 people about to join the church, the archbishop says, “You are here, it is true, because you have been searching for God. But it is also true that God has been looking for you.” Number of those converting on the rise. • The archbishop announces plan for a new parish in Portland, the first in two decades. • Five sex abuse suits filed against archdiocese in a span of six days. Accusations date back to the 1950s. Archbishop reaches out to victims and apologizes repeatedly, though he was not here at the time of the incidents. Scores of other suits follow. • Archbishop meets with media to explain U.S. bishops’ charter for protecting children. Training in abuse prevention starts archdiocese-wide. Archbishop plans regular days of prayer to seek healing, forgiveness.
2003 • Archbishop invites Mass honoring Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to cathedral. • Archbishop speaks at pro-life rally in Salem. • Portland hosts national conference on Catholic evangelization, where the message is that charity is key to making disciples. • As fighting begins in Iraq, the archbishop says “our most powerful weapon is prayer.”
2004 • Facing financial pressure from impending trials on sex abuse claims, the Archdiocese files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Portland is the first U.S. Catholic diocese to seek the legal protection. The aim is saving money to pay all claims while sustaining mission. • Archbishop reports archdiocese has paid $53 million since 1950 to plaintiffs of sex abuse, about half coming from insurers. Cuts ordered to cover cost. Oregon law make abuse lawsuits easier to file. • Multnomah County begins issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Same-sex unions are not marriage, the archbishop says. • More than a thousand Catholics gather with the archbishop at an event focused on mission. The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council selects faith formation, youth ministry and multi-cultural church life as focus. • Archbishop helps dedicate Holocaust memorial in Portland park.
2005 • Archdiocese begins public advertising campaign to find remaining victims of sex abuse. • Oregon National Guard gives award to archbishop for supporting soldiers. • Pope John Paul dies. Archbishop, saddened by loss, pays tribute to a man he says was fatherly and consistent, always “healing and unifying.” • Pope Benedict elected. The delighted archbishop says, “In my meetings with him I have found that he listens well, he is cordial and he is collaborative.” • The archbishop urges Sen. Gordon Smith to stand with the poor when voting for a federal budget. • As he has every year, the archbishop celebrates Mass at the Grotto for thousands of former refugees who want to give thanks for freedom. • Local Catholics give major contributions to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. • Bankruptcy judge says archdiocese, not parishes and schools, owns property, leading to specter of more expensive settlements. Appeal filed.
2006 • New Catholic retreat center for youths opens in Mount Angel. • Archbishop speaks out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. • “The purpose of the church is not to make the world Catholic but to bring the Gospel into the world,” the archbishop says. “We can contribute to make this a more just and loving society.” • The archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary to confirm inmates. • Archbishop speaks to young Catholics gathered in a Portland brew pub. • Fourteen staff positions are cut at pastoral center to help pay for abuse settlements and bankruptcy court costs.
2007 • Bankruptcy concludes with $75 million reorganization plan. The effort settles 177 claims of abuse. • Three priests ordained. • Archbishop decries immigration raid at North Portland vegetable business. He calls the action “an affront to a nation whose tradition has always welcomed the stranger.” • The Oregon Catholic Conference backs initiatives that would nix domestic partner benefits for gay couples and strengthen regulations on location of strip clubs. • Pope Benedict names nine monsignors and gives honors to a group of religious and laity.
2008 • The Archbishop signs statement supporting legislation to ban the use of torture by the U.S. government. • Archdiocese releases priest files and documents, with the archbishop saying the move fulfills need for transparency. • The archbishop celebrates his 25 years in the episcopacy. A rare Portland blizzard shuts down city.
2009 • “Deliberately taking another life, or standing by and letting it happen, rise above all others,” the archbishop tells crowd at pro-life rally. • Archbishop ordains seven, largest class of archdiocesan priests since the 1970s.
2010 • Archbishop publicly cancels subscription to Oregonian, saying the newspaper has been unfair and uninformed. • The archbishop is the hit of the party at the annual Seminary Tea, a benefit for seminarian education. • Archbishop tells six new priests: “God’s great love for each of us is still too much of a secret and it needs to be shouted from the mountaintops.” • The archbishop celebrates Mass for 1,000 faithful at the Rosary Bowl, a Marian gathering in Salem.
2011 • Archbishop asks Oregon lawmakers to reverse proposed cuts in anti-poverty spending. • In Rome, archbishop celebrates 50-year jubilee of ordination. • Archbishop attends parish and school centennials, thanking Catholics for ministry over years.
2012 • Archbishop urges Catholics to oppose federal mandate for some religious employers to pay for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs for employees. On his 75th birthday, archbishop tenders his resignation.
2013 • Bishop Alexander Sample named new archbishop.