A coat of arms, or heraldic achievement, is a centuries-old tradition of creating graphic representations of significant persons, families or countries. Catholic bishops adopted the practice centuries ago when an increasing number of nobles received appointments to the episcopacy, bringing with them their family heraldry. Now, every newly elected bishop receives a coat of arms.
With the upcoming Nov. 9 installation of Bishop Paul Etienne as the new archbishop of Anchorage, the unique role of a bishop will be visibly celebrated in the installation Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage. There, Archbishop Etienne will assume leadership of the archdiocese as the faithful acknowledge the ancient Catholic teaching that the fullness of holy orders, in all its powers and responsibilities, rests in the hands of the local bishop.
A bishop’s installation is a time-honored tradition in the Catholic Church, and a vivid reminder about one of the faith’s central teachings — apostolic succession — which traces today’s bishops from an unbroken line down to the Twelve Apostles who were commissioned by Christ. With that tenet of the faith in mind, the Anchorage Archdiocese is busy preparing for its new archbishop. It is an occasion area Catholics are encouraged to help celebrate.
From teen shoe salesman in Tell City, Indiana, to archbishop of Anchorage, it seems his life has been full of unexpected turns. That’s how Bishop Paul Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyoming, described his elevation to archbishop and assignment to the Far North. But some people weren’t too surprised the pope chose him for greater responsibilities, namely the family who watched him grow up.
The installation of Bishop Paul Etienne as the new archbishop of Anchorage will be live streamed on the Catholic Anchor website — CatholicAnchor.org. The installation Mass, in which Archbishop Roger Schwietz will formally hand over leadership of the Anchorage Archdiocese to his successor, will take place on Nov. 9, beginning at 2 p.m.
The next archbishop of Anchorage had a simple message for Alaska’s youth: “God wants to be personal with us.” This was the theme Bishop Paul Etienne highlighted in his first address to Alaskan youth during a recent Mass at Lumen Christi High School in Anchorage.