ANCHORAGE — Pope Francis has named Bishop Paul Dennis Etienne, 57, to be the next archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska, and accepted the resignation of Archbishop Roger Schwietz, 76, who submitted his resignation last year upon turning 75 as required by the church’s canon law.
Archbishop-elect Etienne has served as the bishop of Cheyenne Wyoming for the past seven years.
The new appointment was announced at noon in Rome on Oct. 4. Archbishop Schwietz will introduce Archbishop-elect Etienne at an 11 a.m. press conference this Tuesday morning, Oct. 4, in the Chancery Offices at 225 Cordova Street in Anchorage. The press is invited for the announcement.
The installation date for Archbishop-elect Etienne is yet to be announced, but Archbishop Schwietz will serve as apostolic administrator during the interim.
Archbishop-elect Etienne was born June 15, 1959 as the second son to Paul and Kay Etienne in Tell City, Indiana. Two of his brothers are priests for the Diocese of Evansville, Indiana and one of his two sisters is a Benedictine Sister with Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana. Another brother is married and lives in Newburg, Indiana, and another sister lives in Evansville, Indiana.
Archbishop-elect Etienne’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (1986) from the University of St. Thomas/St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He also has a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1992) and a License in Spiritual Theology (1995) from Gregorian University in Rome.
He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on June 27, 1992. Assignments after ordination include, associate pastor of St. Barnabas Church in Indianapolis; associate vocation director for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in 1992; vocation director for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis from 1995-1998; pastor of St. Anne Church and St. Joseph Church in Jennings County from 1995 to 1998; pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in New Albany from 1998 to 2007; vice rector of Bishop Simon Brutė College Seminary in Indianapolis from 2007 to 2009 and pastor of St. Simon Church in Indianapolis from 2007 to 2008. He also served as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis from 2008 to 2009. In 2009 he served as pastor both at St. Paul Church in Tell City and at St. Mark Church in St. Mark. At that time he was also the dean of Tell City Deanery. Other assignments during this time included spiritual director of St. Meinrad School of Theology, archdiocesan review board, advisory board for Bishop Simon Brutė College Seminary, College of Consultors for the archbishop of Indianapolis, Council of Priests for the archdiocese and vice-postulator for the sainthood cause of Servant of God, Bishop Simon Brutė.
In 2009 he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the bishop of Cheyenne Wyoming and was ordained a bishop in December 2009.
His other positions include president of Catholic Rural Life (2013-present), chairman of Catholic Home Missions (2015-present), member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Budget and Finance Committee (Nov. 2016), member of the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People (2010-2012, 2015-present), member of the board of trustees for St. John Vianney Theological Seminary (2010-present) and a member of the board of directors for Wyoming Catholic College (2009-2016).
The Archdiocese of Anchorage comprises 138,000 square miles in Southcentral Alaska. Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and sits at the base of the Chugach Mountains along the coast of Cook Inlet. The population of the archdiocese is approximately 400,000, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the population of Alaska. The general population of Anchorage is approximately 250,000. Of that, the estimated Catholic population is 32,170 or about 8% of the overall population. There are eight parishes in the Anchorage urban area. The other 13 parishes and missions are in more rural parts of the archdiocese. Many are accessible only by airplane or boat.
Archbishop-elect Etienne will be the fourth archbishop of Anchorage.