Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Out West, Eastward Bound: Seattle's Tyson to Yakima

As he left last November's USCCB plenary in Baltimore, Bishop Joseph Tyson's mind was said to be taken up with plans for the Thanksgiving dinner he'd be cooking alone for his family and a host of friends.

Now, though, the Seattle auxiliary's got even bigger things on his plate.

At Roman Noon today, B16 named the energetic, earthy 53 year-old prelate as bishop of Yakima, succeeding Carlos Sevilla SJ, who reached the retirement age of 75 last August.

Home to some 90,000 Catholics in central Washington State, some three-quarters of the Yakima church is Hispanic. Accordingly, the appointee has a strong command of Spanish, as well as German.

Named an auxiliary of the Emerald City in 2005 -- fittingly, in the first batch of American nods made by Der Deutschepapst -- the bike-friendly bishop was born in the Yakima diocese, and baptized in the cathedral to which he'll now return. Tyson studied journalism and Russian and completed a master's before his seminary days at Washington DC's Theological College, from which he was ordained in 1989. After a priesthood spent entirely in parish work (at one point running three churches at once), the city pastor memorably learned of his appointment as a bishop while on his bicycle, serving the remainder of Archbishop Alex Brunett's tenure as vicar-general and Catholic schools chief in the booming Seattle church, its membership tripled since 1990, now nearing the threshold of a million members.

While a handful of prelates older than Sevilla still await their successors, the Yakima move adds to a busy time for the fold in the Northwest. With Tyson's transfer, all of Washington's three dioceses have received new heads in the last nine months, following last June's appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich to the bankruptcy-rocked Spokane diocese, and Archbishop Peter Sartain's December arrival in "Seatown" in succession to Brunett.

What's more, as the departure of Seattle's senior administrator now gives Sartain a key opening in building his own team, the region's ecclesial hub is preparing for a fairly significant turn in the wider spotlight -- the USCCB Summer Meeting begins just across Lake Washington from the Space Needle in Bellevue on June 15th.

Between the plenary's distinction of being the bench's first public gathering to be chaired by its new president, and the already-announced agenda item of a "long-planned review" of the Dallas Charter, its stringency of enforcement called into question given recent events, this year's June Meeting is likely to be more high-profile than most.

And along those lines, the plenary's opening could well coincide with Tyson's installation. With Yakima all of two hours and change from Seattle, as the rites of possession there must take place within two months of this morning's appointment, the timeframe's outer bound fits neatly with the June Meeting's start.

This morning's change taken into account, six Stateside Latin-church sees remain vacant, with another eight led by prelates serving past the retirement age.

SVILUPPO: In its early-morning brief, the Yakima chancery announced Tyson's installation for Tuesday, 31 May, at one of the diocese's larger churches, Holy Family parish in Yakima.

The bishop-designate will be introduced to his new fold later today, prior to Yakima's Chrism Mass tonight at St Paul's Cathedral, the church where he was baptized.