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Pope Francis names familiar face as auxiliary bishop for Western Oregon

Smith

Pope Francis has named Father Peter Leslie Smith — a priest with ties to Lake Oswego — as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.

Bishop-elect Smith is currently serving as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese and will continue in those positions after he is ordained a bishop. His ordination is tentatively set for April 29 at a venue yet to be determined.

“I am grateful and humbled by the confidence the Holy Father has shown in giving me this appointment,” Smith said. “Please keep me in your prayers as being a bishop can be challenging as well as an opportunity to grow and to serve the faithful. God is full of surprises.”

Archbishop Alexander K. Sample responded to the appointment, saying, “This is news of great joy for the local church here in the Archdiocese of Portland. Bishop-elect Smith has been a trusted and invaluable co-worker with me ever since I appointed him vicar general early into my time here as the new archbishop. He is a man of deep faith, great intellect and practical wisdom. He is also well respected by the clergy, religious and faithful of western Oregon. I look forward to having him by my side as an auxiliary bishop to assist me in caring for the Lord’s flock in this historic archdiocese. I am grateful to Bishop-elect Smith for accepting Pope Francis’ call to be a bishop. He will have my prayers, friendship and support.”

Smith was born in 1958 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He is the oldest of six children of Patrick L. (deceased) and Joicelyn S. Smith. He attended elementary and secondary school in Pietermaritzburg, and then completed military service. He earned a bachelor’s of commerce degree in business administration and marketing in 1981, and earned a law degree in 1983, both from the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. He moved to the United States and joined the People of Praise community working in South Bend, Ind., and in Minneapolis, Minn. He entered the seminary in 1996, and earned a master of arts degree in theology in 2000 and a master of divinity degree in 2001, both from Mount Angel Seminary.

Smith was ordained a priest by Archbishop Emeritus John G. Vlazny on June 9, 2001, at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He is a member of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise, a private association of the faithful.

After serving as parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego, he studied at the Catholic University of America, earning a licentiate degree in canon law (JCL). He served as pastor at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Portland from 2006 until his appointment as vicar general in May 2013.

Smith is only the third auxiliary bishop appointed for the Archdiocese of Portland in its 168-year history. Previous auxiliary bishops were Kenneth D. Steiner, who retired in November 2011, and the late Paul E. Waldschmidt.

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