Bishop Sample speaks to middle schoolers during a 2011 conference in Marquette.
A microcosm of the Catholic Church is filling the University of Portland sports dome at this hour to welcome a new shepherd for western Oregon. Space is running out. Officials are now opening bleachers to accomodate more worshipers.
In the presence of guests from other faiths, Catholic laity, cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons and Religious, Archbishop Alexander Sample is about to be installed as 11th archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland.
Choirs are singing as the crowd buzzes and tries to find seats. The ushers are bellowing out to let people know where to sit and asking worshipers to squeeze together.
Archbishop Sample Monday night gathered in prayer for his first time with his new flock during an hour-long vigil service at St. Mary Cathedral.
“I couldn't be happier," the new spiritual leader told the congregation that included Cardinal William Levada and dozens of bishops, and scores of priests, Religious, seminarians, deacons and lay people in the church. He was joined by family and friends, including some cousins he has not seen for two decades.
His mother flew to Portland on Sunday with her son after being discharged from the hospital where she was being trated the past week for an asthma attack.
“We gather tonight to continue to rejoice with the risen Lord," he told the group before commenting on the readings of the day.
His talk lasted for 15 minutes and he never consulted a text or notes once.
Afterwards, at a wine and cheese reception in the Cathedral School gym, he greeted dozens of people lined up to offer their best wishes.