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4/12/2013 8:46:00 AM
He's a man of the Church, but not always churchy
Photo by Fr. Ben Hasse
Archbishop Sample, Fr. Al Mott and Fr. Mike Chenier kayak on the Menominee River during a priests' retreat in the Upper Peninsula.
Photo by Fr. Ben Hasse
Archbishop Sample, Fr. Al Mott and Fr. Mike Chenier kayak on the Menominee River during a priests' retreat in the Upper Peninsula.

Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Archbishop Sample heads up a cross-country ski trail at Blueberry Ridge, near Marquette.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Archbishop Sample heads up a cross-country ski trail at Blueberry Ridge, near Marquette.
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Bishop Sample speaks to middle schoolers during a 2011 conference in Marquette.

Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

MARQUETTE, Mich. — Archbishop Alexander Sample loves sacred polyphony from the Renaissance and also Far Side cartoons. He likes walking the streets of Rome, but also hauling pike out of cold northern lakes. Both the "Sound of Music" and "Star Wars" are on his list of favorite films.

He's a man of the Catholic Church, no doubt. But for him the gifts of God are anywhere and everywhere.  

His favorite Italian artist is Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, born in the 16th century. Among the pieces he likes is the rich, illuminated "Call of St. Matthew" and the "Supper at Emmaus," in which surprised disciples almost come out of their chairs when they recognize Jesus.

While studying canon law in Rome during the mid-1990s, he came to admire Italian food and has become accomplished at many dishes.   

"So much ministry as bishop is head stuff," he says. "To get your hands into something, to create something — I enjoy that."

He's likes good films, and because he watches many with his mother, he's become a buff on the classics.
During the winter, Archbishop Sample likes to load his cross-country skis in the Subaru and head for the nearby woods after work. He is an accomplished nordic skier, who can perform both the classic technique and the faster, more difficult skating method. Blueberry Ridge, only minutes from Marquette, has dozens of miles of courses, including one lit for night skiing. As he stepped on the course shortly before leaving for Portland, he admitted he'd miss the winter wonders, but plans to try nordic skiing on Mount Hood.

In fair weather, he'd ride his bicycle around Marquette, including on a bike path that begins close to the cathedral and heads north. He has been known to lash a kayak onto the car and then drive to a local waterway.

In a room off his garage, a set of golf clubs has been gathering dust as of late, but he knows how to use them.

As a boy, he was a fan of his hometown University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball team. At present, the archbishop is a follower of the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Tigers. He played soccer in high school and learned to love the game even more in Rome. He recalls getting his hair cut by a barber who would speak polite Italian to him, but turn his head to argue soccer with friends in a salty Roman dialect.

His Portland home is just a few blocks from Jeld-Wen Field, home of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer franchise.

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