Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
PHILADELPHIA - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, a tribal member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, based in Mayetta, Kansas, was named the new archbishop of Philadelphia by Pope Benedict XVI last Tuesday.
Archbishop Chaput was born in Concordia, Kansas, where his mother still resides. He was one of three children born to the union of Joseph and Marian Helen (née DeMarais) Chaput.
His maternal grandmother was the last of the family to live on Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Indian reservation. He was given the Indian name, "Pietasen," which means rustling wind. His mother fondly called him "Windy."
Archbishop Chaput, who is 66, is a member of the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin. He was ordained a priest in 1970 and became a bishop at the age of 43. At that time he became the Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.
Since 1997 he has served as Archbishop of Denver, where under his leadership the American Indian Catholic members grew to about 2,000 within the diocese.
Archbishop Chaput is the second American Indian to be ordained a Bishop in the United States and the first American Indian Archbishop.
Archbishop Chaput addressed the challenge of leaving Denver for Philadelphia, by saying, "When I moved from my ministry as a bishop in South Dakota to the Archdiocese of Denver 14 years ago, I felt like I had gone from crewing a very beautiful sailboat to running a supertanker. That's the way I feel this morning. I've spent the last 23 years of my life as a bishop in the West. The priests and people of Colorado and South Dakota have formed me with their faith, their generosity, their humor and their love."
"Leaving a place is easy. But leaving the people who have shaped me with their friendship, opened their homes to me, and welcomed me into the happiness and sorrows of their lives - that's very, very hard. All I can say to them is thank you. My life as a priest has been filled with goodness because they made it so."
Currently, Archbishop Chaput is chairman for the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops Subcommittee on the Native American Catholics; a member for the Cultural Diversity in the Church and the Task Force for Health Care.
He is author of two books: "Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics" (Servant, 2001) and "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life" (Doubleday, 2008).
Cap. as the 13th Bishop and ninth Archbishop of Philadelphia. Archbishop Chaput will be Installed on Thursday, September 8, 2011, the feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul at 2:00 pm.
He succeeds Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, who retired.
posted July 25, 2011 6:52 am edt
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