Sr. Ellen Callaghan, O.S.F. will be departing Alaska for semi-retirement in Wilmington, Delaware at the end of June 2019. Sr. Ellen has spent 22 years of selfless service to the Diocese of Fairbanks and the faithful flock of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region.
“The unborn child occupies a space in Navajo culture that can best be described as holy or sacred….”-Navajo Nation
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As usual, my March travels took me from one end of the country to the other--in addition to visiting villages in western Alaska, I traveled to Washington, D.C, to see two Navy friends ordained bishops and attended a listening session in Arizona with Native Americans. Much discussion during these travels focused on the abuse scandals, which I wanted to share with the faithful in our diocese.
While in Washington, D.C., I was sitting outside a coffee shop in clerics when an older man approached and asked to join me. Of course, I said yes. Not far into the conversation, he asked if I had some inside intel on the crisis in the Church. I assured him he knew as much as I did, from media reports and information coming out of dioceses. I expressed frustration about the abuse of minors and negligent Church leaders. I sensed he needed to hear something hopeful, so I shared that in addition to safeguarding young people through our Safe Environment program, our diocese is tackling the crisis through spiritual warfare. Our priests fast and pray every Friday for survivors, as reparation for sins by clergy and religious. We also set aside special days for all the faithful to pray for the conversion of the Church. My priests, my people, and I are in this battle together.
Besides heaven itself, what greater gift could there be than a child? And what greater responsibility could there be than raising a child? As a Catholic I believe God knows us individually, and has created us according to His purpose. I often pray this simple prayer for my children and family: “Dear Jesus, help us to become who we are in you.” Not only is Jesus, the risen Christ, our model of behavior and goodness, but to become fully who we are in Him, completes God’s unique design for each of us.
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away, it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). The term “millstone” is mentioned several times in Scripture. Very heavy and hard, it was used to grind grain for bread in each town or village, and was a well-known site. There could be no mistaking this dramatic usage of the word.
Fr. Bala Gangarapu will be returning to his home diocese of Hyderabad in India by 1 July 2019. In June 2014, Fr. Bala was granted permission to work in the Diocese of Fairbanks for a total of five years from his Archbishop.
Fr. Bala traveled to many of our remote villages, and recently served at Sacred Heart Cathedral and Immaculate Conception Church (Fairbanks). He made several trips down the snowy and icy roads to care for the parishes in Healy and Nenana. Thank you for your generosity in serving the good people of God in the Diocese of Fairbanks. It has been an honor and privilege to work with Fr. Bala and we will all miss him dearly.
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks
As we prepare to enter into the holy season of Lent, a time of purification and preparation through acts of prayer, penance, and alms giving, I would like to invite you all to celebrate with me the Chrism Mass. The Mass will take place on Tuesday, April 9th at 7:00 pm. The celebration of this liturgy is one of the most significant Masses we celebrate as a diocese. It is an opportunity for the people of God in the diocese to come together with their bishop to express the unity of the Church.
Daniel Oberreuter, the lead singer of the Catholic band The Thirsting, will be offering a Come Hold My Son Parish Mission Concert at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday, March 31 at 7:00 pm. Monday thru Wednesday, Daniel will conduct the road system mission starting with Mass each evening at 6:00 pm and mission talks at 7:00 pm. He will share his personal testimony and a powerful message on the Rosary, Eucharist and Confession. Daniel has performed at World Youth Day 2016 and at hundreds of churches across the nation. Bring your family and friends to experience this opportunity for evangelization within your community. For more info, visit comeholdmyson.com.
All are invited and encouraged to sit in Adoration on Thursday, February 21st during the hours of 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM at Sacred Heart Cathedral. This day of Adoration will take place during “The protection of minors in the Church” Meeting, to be held in the Vatican from 21 to 24 February 2019 and our extended Adoration will be held only on the first day.
The February Meeting will see Presidents of Bishops’ Conference from all over the world coming together. The Meeting will include plenary sessions, working groups, moments of common prayer, listening to testimonies, a penitential liturgy, and a final Eucharistic celebration. Pope Francis will be present for the entire duration of the Meeting.
The following is a homily delivered by Bishop Chad Zielinski at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday, February 3, 2019. He invites all Catholics in our diocese to embrace a call to be “prophets for life” in these challenging times.
Today the first reading is from the Prophet Jeremiah. What is a prophet? A prophet is a messenger called and sent by God to communicate His will to the people. Prophets knew God’s will and they had the responsibility of calling Israel back to a life-giving, covenantal relationship with God when she wandered from it through sin.
Last Sunday, the first reading was from the Prophet Nehemiah. We heard Ezra the priest reading from the scroll, the law, and the people were weeping. They realized they had wandered away from God’s law through sin. Nehemiah saw their repentant hearts and announced an end to their weeping and instructed them to rejoice in God.
Today, January 14 is the beginning of a Prayer Novena for Life. We are 9 days from January 22, which marks 46 years since the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America. Since that date, it is estimated that over 60 million unborn children have been killed. This is a most terrible tragedy that does not honor the sacred dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. The Catholic Church must continue to be emphatic in declaring the sacredness of life and defending it especially when a child is defenseless in his/her mother’s womb.
Please include respect for all life in your prayer petitions. See the attached link from the USCCB website offering several ideas for parish bulletins. Also, I have attached a copy of a Novena for Life.
One hundred years ago the Seward Peninsula was struck by the infamous Spanish Flu. Two Jesuit priests, Frs. Bellarmine Lafortune, S.J., and Frederick Ruppert, S.J., witnessed firsthand the devastating effects. It was estimated that one-third of the world’s population became infected with the virus and at least 50 million died worldwide. Of the 1,113 influenza deaths in Alaska between 1918-1919, 820 deaths were in the Seward Peninsula as the first wave of the pandemic hit the area in November 1918. The two priests were in the center of the hardest affected area of Alaska and were desperate to care for the sick and dying.One hundred years ago the Seward Peninsula was struck by the infamous Spanish Flu. Two Jesuit priests, Frs. Bellarmine Lafortune, S.J., and Frederick Ruppert, S.J., witnessed firsthand the devastating effects. It was estimated that one-third of the world’s population became infected with the virus and at least 50 million died worldwide. Of the 1,113 influenza deaths in Alaska between 1918-1919, 820 deaths were in the Seward Peninsula as the first wave of the pandemic hit the area in November 1918. The two priests were in the center of the hardest affected area of Alaska and were desperate to care for the sick and dying.