Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Archdiocese of Seattle

Archidiœcesis Seattlensis
Seattle - Saint James Cathedral pano 01.jpg
St. James Cathedral
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.svg
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryWestern Washington
Ecclesiastical provinceSeattle
Area64,269 km2 (24,814 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2016)
863,000 (15.7%)
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMay 31, 1850 (as Diocese of Nesqually)
Became Diocese of Seattle, September 11, 1907
Elevated to Archdiocese June 23, 1951
CathedralSt. James Cathedral
Patron saintSt. James the Greater[1]
Secular priests115
Current leadership
ArchbishopPaul D. Etienne
Auxiliary BishopsEusebio L. Elizondo Almaguer
Bishops emeritusJ. Peter Sartain
Archdiocese of Seattle.jpg

Formerly known as Diocese of Nesqually, 1850-1907.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle is an ecclesiastical territory or archdiocese of the Catholic Church (particularly the Roman Catholic or Latin Church) located in the U.S. state of Washington. Headquartered in Seattle, the archdiocese encompasses all counties in the state west of the Cascade Range.

As of 3 September 2019, its archbishop is Paul D. Etienne.

Its cathedral of the archiepiscopal see is St. James Cathedral in Seattle, and the former cathedral is the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater, in Vancouver, Washington.

The archdiocese succeeded to the Diocese of Nesqually headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, established in 1850 as a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Oregon City. In 1903, the episcopal see was moved to Seattle, and the diocese's name was changed to Diocese of Seattle in 1907. The diocese was elevated to metropolitan archdiocesan status in 1951.

Ecclesiastical province[edit]

The Archbishop of Seattle concurrently is the Metropolitan Archbishop of two suffragan daughter dioceses within the Ecclesiastical Province of Seattle, which together cover the entire state of Washington :

Statistics and extent[edit]

As per 2014 it pastorally served 997,000 Catholics (18.6% of 5,350,045 total) on 64,269 km² in 147 parishes with 298 priests (204 diocesan, 94 religious), 116 deacons, 476 lay religious (109 brothers, 367 sisters) and 800 lay ecclesial ministers.

The Archdiocese encompasses all of Western Washington, 64,269 km², stretching from the Canadian to the Oregon border and from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, including 19 counties.

In this area, 972,000 people identify as Catholic, almost 19% of the total population of 5,202,500.[2]

There are 144 parishes, and an additional 37 missions, stations, and pastoral centers. Only 106 of these have resident priest-pastors.

These parishes and other centers are served by 115 active diocesan priests, 118 diocesan deacons, approximately 800 diocesan lay ecclesial ministers, and 530 religious women and men (including priests). The archbishop is assisted by two auxiliary bishops, and there are two retired archbishops still living.

There are 11 Catholic Hospitals, 2 Health Care Centers, 19 Homes for the elderly, 3 day care centers, 10 specialized homes, and 111 centers for social services.

There are 2 Catholic universities, 11 high schools, 62 elementary schools.

16,831 elementary students are served through parochial and private schools; 29,850 through parochial religious education programs.

2420 high school students are served through diocesan and private schools; 6580 through parochial religious education and youth ministry programs.[3]


The presence of the Catholic Church in the present state of Washington dates to the 1830s, when missionary priests François Norbert Blanchet and Modeste Demers traveled from Quebec and arrived in what was then known as the Oregon Country. On December 1, 1843, the Holy See established the Vicariate Apostolic of the Oregon Territory and named Blanchet its vicar apostolic. In 1846 Pope Gregory XVI established an ecclesiastical territory in the region, and the apostolic vicariate was split into three dioceses: Diocese of Oregon City with François Blanchet as bishop; Diocese of Vancouver Island, with Demers as bishop, and Diocese of Walla Walla at Walla Walla, Washington, with François Blanchet's brother, Augustin-Magloire Blanchet, as bishop.

The Whitman massacre in 1847 and the ensuing Cayuse War increased tensions between Christians and the native population of the Oregon Territory, and as a result by 1850 the Diocese of Walla Walla was abandoned and its merged-in territory administered from Oregon City.

On May 31, 1850, Pope Pius IX created the Diocese of Nesqually out of the defunct Walla Walla diocese, with Augustin Blanchet as bishop. In January 1851, Augustin Blanchet dedicated St. James Church near Fort Vancouver as the new diocese's cathedral. A new St. James Cathedral was built in Vancouver, Washington in 1885.

In 1903 Bishop Edward O'Dea, realizing that Vancouver was no longer the economic and population center of the region, moved the episcopal see to Seattle and began construction on a new cathedral in 1905. The Holy See changed the name to Diocese of Seattle on September 11, 1907, and the present-day St. James Cathedral was dedicated on December 22, 1907.

On December 12, 1913, it lost territory to establish the Diocese of Spokane, now its oldest suffragan.

It was elevated on June 23, 1951 as Metropolitan Archdiocese of Seattle and Bishop Thomas Arthur Connolly became the first archbishop.[4] Simultaneously it lost territory to establish the Diocese of Yakima, its second suffragan.

In 1983, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), initiated an apostolic visitation to the Archdiocese of Seattle. The visitation was largely prompted by concerns over whether the archdiocese under Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen was adhering to church teachings on matters including contraception in Catholic hospitals and its treatment of homosexuals and divorced people.[5] Archbishop James Hickey of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC was sent to Seattle to gather information on behalf of the CDF.[6] As a result of the CDF's findings, on December 3, 1985, Pope John Paul II appointed Donald Wuerl auxiliary bishop of Seattle with "special faculties"[7] that included the authority to overrule Archbishop Hunthausen in several areas. This unusual arrangement proved unpopular among the people of the archdiocese, and Wuerl was replaced with Thomas Murphy on May 26, 1987. Murphy was appointed as coadjutor archbishop, and thus automatically became the archbishop with Hunthausen's retirement on August 21, 1991.[8]

Under Archbishop Murphy, the archdiocese saw an increase in registered Catholics and an increase in lay ministries and outreach for women and various ethnic groups. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 1996, and died on June 26, 1997. Father George Leo Thomas was appointed administrator of the archdiocese until the installation of Archbishop Alexander Joseph Brunett in December 1997. Brunett later appointed and consecrated George Thomas as auxiliary bishop, a post he held until his appointment as Bishop of Helena in 2004. Eusebio L. Elizondo Almaguer and Joseph J. Tyson were appointed as auxiliary bishops and consecrated in 2005; Elizondo still serves in that capacity, while Tyson departed in 2011 to become Bishop of suffragan see Yakima. Brunett served as archbishop until his retirement in 2011 and was succeeded by J. Peter Sartain. On April 29, 2019, Pope Francis named Paul D. Etienne, serving at the time as Archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska, as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Seattle in anticipation of Archbishop Sartain's retirement.[9][10] Etienne succeeded Sartain on September 3, 2019, when Pope Francis accepted his resignation.[11]


Bishops of Nesqually[edit]

  1. Augustin-Magloire Blanchet (1850–1879)
  2. Egidius Junger (1879–1895)
  3. Edward John O'Dea (1896–1907), title changed to Bishop of Seattle

Bishops of Seattle[edit]

  1. Edward John O'Dea (1907–1932)
  2. Gerald Shaughnessy (1933–1950)
  3. Thomas Arthur Connolly (1950–1951), elevated to Archbishop

Archbishops of Seattle[edit]

  1. Thomas Arthur Connolly (1951–1975)
  2. Raymond Hunthausen (1975–1991)
  3. Thomas Joseph Murphy (1991–1997; coadjutor 1987-1991)
  4. Alexander Joseph Brunett (1997–2010)
  5. J. Peter Sartain (2010–2019)
  6. Paul D. Etienne (2019–present; coadjutor 2019)

Current Auxiliary Bishops[edit]

Former Auxiliary Bishops[edit]

Other priests of this diocese who became Bishops[edit]

Catholic High schools[edit]

* Operationally independent of Archdiocese

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paulist Press Ordo 2010
  2. ^ "The Archdiocese". Archdiocese of Seattle.
  3. ^ "Table of Statistics" (PDF). Archdiocese of Seattle.
  4. ^ "Local Catholic History". Archives and Records, Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  5. ^ "Raymond Hunthausen". People. 1986-12-22.
  6. ^ "Seattle Catholic - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's Report Issued on Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen".
  7. ^ Canon 403, Section 2, and Canon 405, Section 2, Codex Juris Canonici, 1984.
  8. ^ Canon 403, Section 3, and Canon 405, Section 2, Codex Juris Canonici, 1984.
  9. ^ "Pope names Archbishop Etienne coadjutor archbishop of Seattle". Catholic News Service. April 29, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  10. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 29.04.2019" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. April 29, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  11. ^ "Archbishop Etienne succeeds Archbishop Sartain as archbishop of Seattle". Northwest Catholic.

Sources and external links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°36′23″N 122°19′32″W / 47.60639°N 122.32556°W / 47.60639; -122.32556