Born on August 22, 1797 near St. Pierre Riviere de Sud, Canada, A. M. A. Blanchet was
the brother of Francis Norbert Blanchet, one of the first missionary priests in the
Pacific Northwest and first Archbishop of Portland in Oregon. A. M. A. Blanchet
ministered to the Native American population of the diocese, drawing on his
experiences as a young missionary in eastern Canada. He also made it a priority
to strengthen the Catholic culture of the French-Canadian Catholics
who had come to the Pacific Northwest with the Hudson Bay Company. As the population of the
diocese became increasingly Euro-American, Blanchet went to great lengths to provide support
for the often-deteriorating Catholic traditions of the highly mobile immigrant population.
Blanchet solicited funds and help from others, inviting the Sisters of Providence from Montreal,
and soliciting financial contributions from Mexico to strengthen the spiritual and pastoral
ministries within his diocese.
Bishop Blanchet retired in 1879, praying that those who followed would "…have the pleasure seeing
mature the good seed which has been scattered in this garden of God during the past forty years."
He died in February of 1887.
Aegidius Junger's years as Bishop occurred during a time of considerable growth in the
Washington Territory, where the population increased from 75,000 to nearly 400,000 people.
Several new religious orders came to assist Junger, including the Sisters of St. Dominic, the
Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and the Benedictine monks. The diocese continued
to have insufficient numbers of clergy to minister to a population scattered over a large
geographic territory, but Bishop Junger worked tirelessly to build more parishes. One of his
major accomplishments was the construction in 1885 of a new St. James Cathedral in Vancouver.
Bishop Junger died on December 26, 1895.
Bishop O’Dea was born on November 23, 1856, in Boston and moved to the West coast as a child.
The first U.S.-born bishop of the diocese, Bishop O’Dea guided the diocese through
the turmoil of World War I, financial difficulties, and the anti-Catholic sentiment
engendered by Initiative
49 (a Ku Klux Klan-sponsored initiative to make private and parochial schools illegal). He
encouraged lay organization and piety, fostered Americanization for immigrants, and supported
the social and charitable works of women religious (such as St. Frances Xavier Cabrini). He
moved the See of the diocese from Vancouver to Seattle, realizing that Vancouver was no
longer the economic and population center it had once been. O’Dea was known as a great
builder of Catholic institutions. His goal was to have churches within reach of all
his people. His final accomplishment was the establishment of St. Edward Seminary in
Bishop O’Dea died on Christmas Day, 1932.
Bishop Shaughnessy was an excellent administrator, a master of organization and
fastidious attention to detail kept the diocese financially stable during the Depression and
after. Despite the ever-present shortage of resources, Shaughnessy persevered, caring for the
sacramental needs of the Christian faithful by actively seeking priests and religious, by
encouraging vocations in the founding of the Serra Club and by active recruitment of clergy
from Europe and other parts of the United States. He also helped to provide much needed aid
by supporting the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the creation of Catholic Charities. The
Bishop continued to guide the diocese through the difficulties of World War II. Shaughnessy’s
episcopacy was marked by his support of the war effort and his statements
against discrimination towards Japanese Americans.
In November 1945, Bishop Shaughnessy suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while returning from the
annual meeting of the American Bishops at Washington, D.C. He never fully recovered from this
incident and after several years of forced inactivity, died on May 18, 1950.
Archbishop Connolly, born in San Francisco on October 5, 1899, accomplished a vast number of
good works during his episcopacy. Known as a “brick and mortar bishop” he built hundreds of
Catholic facilities to accommodate the post-World War II population growth in the diocese.
As the population rapidly expanded, the diocese was divided, creating the new Diocese of
Yakima and elevating Seattle to an Archdiocese. Connolly also cared deeply for the young
people of the diocese, especially as the post-war "baby boom" took effect. He built many
schools and supported youth programs such as the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and CCD
(Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine) education programs. Archbishop Connolly took bold steps
in supporting the civil rights movement, ecumenical programs, and labor issues. He attended
Vatican II and helped guide the archdiocese through the tumultuous era of the 1960s.
Archbishop Hunthausen, born in Anaconda, Montana, August 21, 1921, embraced the challenges of
the post-Vatican II Church. Known for his strong stances on peace and justice, Archbishop
Hunthausen's leadership emphasized quality pastoral care for the people of the archdiocese.
His dedication to inclusiveness brought the archdiocese into a new era marked by bold strides
in ecumenism and multiculturalism. His views on war became a source of struggle for the
archdiocese when he protested the use of nuclear weapons by withholding half of his income
tax in 1982, prompting the IRS to garnish his wages. This incident, along with several other
similar incidents, prompted an apostolic visitation in 1983 to investigate Hunthausen’s
administrative and pastoral practices. This process included the appointment of Auxiliary
Bishop Donald Wuerl for two years.
Remembered as an outspoken advocate for the poor and the ignored, Hunthausen was also a great
advocate for youth, urging improved catechesis in parishes and supporting Catholic schools
despite falling enrollment.
Archbishop Hunthausen retired in 1991 and currently resides in Montana.
Archbishop Murphy was born on October 3, 1932 in Chicago’s Westside neighborhood. Known for
his indomitable Irish-Catholic spirit, he was an advocate for the poor and needy of the
archdiocese, publicly protesting euthanasia and pro-choice initiatives at the state level,
and vigorously defending the rights of workers, including disenfranchised timber communities.
He traveled frequently to visit the various regions and communities of the archdiocese. Under
his direction, Catholic schools continued to flourish, including the opening of new schools
such as Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy High School (Everett) and Eastside Catholic High School
Archbishop Murphy arrived in the archdiocese in the midst of the turmoil that surrounded
Archbishop Hunthausen, but came to be loved by the people of Western Washington for his
charismatic personality, his dedication to justice, and his deep care for the people of
archdiocese. Archbishop Murphy died of leukemia on June 26, 1997.
Alexander Joseph Brunett was born January 17, 1934, in Detroit, Michigan. He was ordained to the
priesthood in Rome on July 13, 1958. He was appointed Bishop of Helena, Montana in April 1994.
Archbishop Brunett’s ministry over the years focused on parish work as a priest and pastor
with significant contributions to ecumenical and interfaith affairs. He served as a member
or chairman of numerous international and ecumenical committees fostering Jewish/Roman Catholic,
Islamic/Roman Catholic, and Orthodox/Roman Catholic dialogue, and he co-founded the Ecumenical
Institute for Jewish-Christian Studies.
In 1989 Archbishop Brunett was chosen by Temple Beth El of Birmingham, Michigan to receive the
Leo Franklin Award in Human Relations in "recognition of his efforts to combat anti-Semitism and
to create a climate of mutual respect in Catholic-Jewish relations." In 1996 he was elected
chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious
Affairs. That same year he was named recipient of the DOVE Award, presented by the Ecumenical
Institute for Jewish-Christian Studies in Detroit. He also served as a trustee for the
Catholic Near East Welfare Association, a papal agency that facilitates humanitarian and pastoral
support to the people of the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India, and Eastern Europe.