Prior to his being chosen to be the new shepherd of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, I knew Archbishop-elect Paul Etienne through the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He struck me as a youthful and energetic bishop who had a pastoral heart and was close to the people he served in the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming. His cheerful and pleasant personality told me that he was a real people person.
During the period between the time Archbishop-elect Etienne accepted his appointment and the public announcement on Oct. 4, I spoke with him several times on the phone. We had delightful conversations in which he showed great interest in Alaska and the archdiocese and was very easy to work with as we made plans.
I could tell that he was a good listener and would consult widely prior to making a decision. I knew instinctively that the Holy Father had fulfilled our hopes and prayers for a wise and a gentle shepherd who had a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.
During our two days together when the announcement was made here in Anchorage I became convinced that indeed Archbishop-elect Etienne would be easy to get along with and collaborative in carrying out his responsibilities. He is not a personally demanding person but appreciates a simple lifestyle.
My impression is that he has good skills in organizing and a quick mind to read circumstances. I think that Alaskans will find him attentive to their needs and eager to learn everything he can about this archdiocese.
As we look forward to his installation and early ministry I hope that his collaborators and parishioners will receive him as warmly and kindly as I was received when I arrived here. I anticipate that his ministry will include a focus on supporting our schools as well as on church vocations. As he brings new energy and enthusiasm to the office of archbishop and to his focus on the new evangelization, I pray that God will render fruitful his ministry and bless the continued growth in discipleship of our family of faith.