On Feb. 2, Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz marks his 24th year as a bishop.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 3, 1940, the 73-year-old prelate has been a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate since his first profession of vows on August 15, 1961. He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on December 20, 1967.
As related in past issues of the Catholic Anchor, Archbishop Schwietz remembers well the day he was called to be a bishop.
Working as a parish priest in Duluth he received the life-changing call in December 1989 when his secretary, who told him that “a man with a funny accent is on the phone.”
As Archbishop Schwietz explains, the man was the apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. informing him that he had just been named Bishop of Duluth.
“I was ordained in the Cathedral of Duluth on February 2, 1990,” Archbishop noted in a past column for the Catholic Anchor. “That ceremony was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I can still smell the chrism and feel it run down my neck and back as it was poured over my head by Archbishop Jack Roche of the Archdiocese of St. Paul- Minneapolis.”
He added: “The realization of being part of the universal church came to me, when shortly after the ordination, someone sent me a list of my apostolic succession of bishops who were prior to me in line of ordination, going back to the 15th century. That experience of the broader church, together with shepherding the people of the Diocese of Duluth was truly a great joy.”
Ten years later, he recieved another call, sending him into Northern mission territory, to be the new archbishop of Anchorage. He assumed this new role on March 3, 2001.