Archbishop Alexander Sample greets inmate at Ojibway Correctional Facility near Marenisco, Mich.
Our pages for the past few weeks have been packed with articles and photos examining our retired pope, our new pope, our retired archbishop and our new archbishop.
It's Archbishop Sample himself who put this all in perspective. In his introductory column to western Oregon Catholics and in the homily he delivered at his April 2 installation, he reminds us that the real story is not about him or even the pontiffs, but about Jesus and his saving mission to all humans. What a good reminder to help us avert obsession with personalities.
But in proper perspective, our recent reportage on church leaders still has value. As St. Teresa of Avila wrote centuries ago, Jesus has no hands on earth now but ours.
The venture of Jesus now succeeds or fails with human beings — popes, bishops, priests, deacons, Religious and laity. We lay people especially are called to a mission in the home, the neighborhood, the workplace and even the halls of government power.
Our hierarchy and clergy have the task of forming us for the work. We are, once again, being led by a superb teacher, who will keep us on the evangelizing task, and remind us what a joy it is to be a laborer in God's vineyard.
It's not for nothing that Archbishop Sample, at 52, is the youngest archbishop in the nation. He is earnest, smart, kind and energetic. Most of all, he's faithful.
One of our staff trekked to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to meet him and those who know him. Catholics are full of admiration for their former bishop. One priest said Archbishop Sample helps people see the compassion of God.
In that far northern land, even now blanketed in several feet of snow, people especially understand that life is not just for self-gratification. There is bliss, but also work in life. This is where Archbishop Sample has lived for 35 years and he has proven he is not afraid of exertion.
As our new pope spent Holy Thursday washing the feet of prisoners, we are reminded that Archbishop Sample loves prison ministry and tends to do a lot of small, kind things. These are the deeds that give us great hope, that help us understand how Jesus keeps the saving mission going through us. We should all be inspired to join in and act.