Seattle bishop to head Diocese of Yakima

Bishop Joseph Tyson and Pope Benedict
Bishop Joseph Tyson and Pope Benedict


Auxiliary Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Seattle will succeed Bishop Carlos Sevilla of Yakima, Pope Benedict XVI has decided.

“We will miss him, of course,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle said April 12. The selection of Bishop Tyson “speaks of the quality and pastoral skills of our priests here in the Archdiocese of Seattle.”

Bishop Sevilla submitted his resignation in August 2010 upon reaching the age of 75. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced his successor’s appointment in Washington, D.C. on April 12.

Bishop Tyson, 53, was born in the Diocese of Yakima at Moses Lake, Washington on Oct. 16, 1957.  He was baptized at Yakima’s St. Paul Cathedral. After he and his family moved to Seattle, he often returned to visit his grandparents.

He attended Shoreline Community College in Seattle and the University of Washington, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism, a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Eastern European Area Studies, and a master’s degree in international studies. He speaks Spanish, German, Serbo-Croatian, and some Vietnamese, according to the Diocese of Yakima.

Bishop Tyson earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Seattle in 1989.

In 2005 Pope Benedict named him auxiliary bishop of Seattle.

Archbishop Sartain said Bishop Tyson will be missed. The Seattle archbishop voiced appreciation for the bishop’s “intelligence and skill,” saying these qualities will enable him “to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people of the Yakima Diocese.”

Bishop Tyson will become the seventh Bishop of Yakima. The diocese has about 650,000 people, of whom about 78,300, or 12 percent, are Catholic. Its territory covers 17,787 square miles.

The retiring Bishop Sevilla was born in San Francisco in 1935 and ordained a priest for the Society of Jesus in 1966. He became auxiliary bishop of San Francisco in 1988 and Bishop of Yakima in 1996. He previously served on the faculty of Loyola-Marymount University. He was director of spiritual renewal for the California Province of the Jesuits from 1981-1986 and was the province’s director of formation from 1986 to 1988.

Bishop Tyson will be formally installed as Bishop of Yakima at a special Mass on May 31 at Holy Family Parish in Yakima.

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