Local News

Photo by Patricia Coll Freeman Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz celebrates the Red Mass, Oct. 5, at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage.Defend the family
Archbishop urges Alaska lawyers, judges and politicians to uphold natural law

On the same day five Supreme Court justices and national politicos gathered for the annual Red Mass for attorneys, judges and politicians in Washington, D.C., some of Alaska’s own judicial and political leaders came to Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage for the local celebration – where they were urged to protect the future of the human family.

U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland, Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan and former Alaska Governor and U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski — along with about a dozen local attorneys — were in attendance at the second annual Red Mass Oct. 5. The rest of the cathedral was filled by Sunday Mass-goers.

Held annually in many major American cities, the Red Mass is a special Mass at which the church asks God’s guidance for those in the work of adjudicating and governing.

This year, the Red Mass coincided with the Catholic Church’s yearly celebration of Respect Life Sunday.

Principal celebrant Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz delivered a homily on marriage, the complementarity of man and woman and the “wondrous gift of procreating human life.”

Leaders, lawmakers and judges, he said, must work to protect those blessings — for the good of all humankind.

Archbishop Schwietz spoke from a podium adorned with a portrait of St. Thomas More, 16th century English lawyer, statesman and married man who was martyred for the faith. He is patron saint of attorneys and politicians.

Photo by Patricia Coll Freeman At right, from the left, former Alaska Governor and U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski and U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland join a group of local attorneys for the annual Red Mass, Oct. 5, in Anchorage.“The future of humanity depends on marriage and the family,” continued the archbishop, who also heads a committee on marriage and family life for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

But because of a “hardness of heart” in many societies today, especially in the West, Archbishop Schwietz said, some want “to take God’s place” and “redefine reality” — including marriage.

“How do we keep from descending into chaos when people take it upon themselves to redefine what God has given us?” Archbishop Schwietz asked.

He emphasized that lawmakers and judges are responsible for “just order” in society — and according to the Catholic Church, the basis of that order is the natural law.

In the Catholic Catechism, natural law is defined as “the light of understanding” impressed by God upon the soul of each person and established by reason, urging a person to do good and avoid sin. While the precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone “clearly and immediately,” they are unchanging throughout history, the Catechism affirms. People of diverse cultures share the “common principles” of natural law, which is the “necessary foundation for the erection of moral rules and civil law.”

Natural law, Archbishop Schwietz said, is “deeper than…the notions of individual groups.”

The archbishop then asked God to help civil leaders and all in society to understand what “the common good really means” and to work “for the good future of our human family.”

The origins of the Red Mass are traced to the 13th century, when the first known Red Mass was offered on behalf of the supreme court of the Catholic Church, the Roman Rota. Clerics wear red vestments, since the color signifies the Holy Spirit — whose guidance is sought at the Mass.

The Anchorage Red Mass is organized by the St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Society of Alaska.

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Photo by Patricia Coll Freeman A passerby stops on Oct. 9 to talk with Nikole Hill during the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil in Anchorage.

40-day vigil works to save babies and families from abortion
‘Women deserve better than abortion,’ says Anchorage organizer

Each fall, for the past four years, thousands have gathered outside abortion clinics across the country to peacefully pray for unborn babies and to help mothers choose life. The national campaign, called “40 Days for Life,” is currently taking place in 212 communities, including Anchorage, along busy Lake Otis Parkway, where two clinics perform abortions.

The abortion industry’s impact on unborn babies is plain. In the United States, since 1973, more than 50 million unborn babies have been destroyed surgically with suction, forceps or scissors — and chemically, with cocktails of powerful hormones.

But often overlooked, say pro-life advocates, is abortion’s impact on mothers. That includes links to increased rates of breast cancer, infertility and psychiatric problems.

That is one of the reasons Nikole Hill is involved in the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign in Anchorage.

“Women deserve better than abortion,” said the 22 year-old Catholic spokesperson for the interdenominational Christian campaign in Anchorage.

“I wanted to be involved because it’s so horrible to me that women are being told that abortion is the best choice for them,” she told the Anchor.

“When you talk to these women and you see them, you really realize that in most cases, they don’t want to make this decision. It’s someone else, whether it’s their boyfriend or husband or girlfriend who’s coming with them saying, ‘This is the best choice for you.’ It’s really not.”

According to state records, 1,759 abortions occurred in Alaska last year. Many took place in Anchorage at Alaska Women’s Health, P.C. and at an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider.

Abortion – which is legal in the U.S. through all nine months of pregnancy and for virtually any reason – is a big business. Nationally, Planned Parenthood brings in $1 billion annually.

In the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil, participants gather near abortion clinics across the country and pray and fast for the end to abortion. The goal is to have at least two people praying outside the abortion clinic — in hour intervals — 24 hours a day for 40 days.

While they pray, some participants hold signs with positive messages, such as “Pray to end abortion” and “Life is beautiful.”

Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz has encouraged Catholics to participate in the vigil, which he called a “program of Christian witness.” And Holy Family Cathedral Dominicans Father Vincent Kelber and Brother Dominic David Maichrowicz helped lead the Sept. 23 opening prayer rally in Anchorage, which more than 130 people attended.

Photo by Patricia Coll Freeman Volunteer Nikole Hill prays Oct. 9 and display signs outside a clinic that performs abortions on Lake Otis in Anchorage. The volunteer effort is part of a national campaign called 40 Days for Life.Over the past four campaigns, national organizers have reported that more than 70,000 people prayed near abortion clinics across the nation. Participants range widely in age, but the Anchorage organizers are young women in their 20s and 30s.

According to Hill, the volunteers pray that abortion practitioners and their assistants “have a change of heart.” They pray for mothers being pressured to abort and the babies who are marked for abortion. They pray for fathers and grandparents – because “they’re losing a member of their family.” And they also pray that “laws will be enacted to protect and respect the sanctity of life from conception until natural death,” Hill explained.

Forty Days for Life Anchorage organizer and Protestant Christian Christine Kurka, age 27, added that, also, “we’re praying…to be changed ourselves, so that more and more, we are people in a society that is welcoming to life — whether it’s an unexpected pregnancy or even on the other end of the spectrum where we have a terminally ill father or mother or grandparents.”

Participants in 40 Days for Life sign a “Statement of Peace,” in which they commit to “show compassion and reflect Christ’s love to all,” including the abortion facility customers and employees. They also agree to obey the law and cooperate with local authorities. In Anchorage, participants stay on the public sidewalk along Lake Otis. If the abortion clinic clients approach them and engage in conversation, volunteers are ready to talk.

Kurka said that the group plans to offer training in “sidewalk counseling,” so that counselors are better equipped to help the abortion-minded find life-affirming options.

Some volunteers are interested in learning “how to speak that kindness and love of Christ and to have a conversation beyond the silent prayer,” Kurka said.

As far as their safety during the vigil, said Hill, “we’ve all been praying for our own protection.”

But Kurka is not aware of any volunteers who have backed out, fearing danger in the wake of the September shooting of a peaceful, pro-life activist in Michigan.

“There’s a little bit of nervousness, because it’s different to go out in public to pray,” she said. “But there’s a reason — because we have a business in public that’s legally killing children.”

One of the greatest difficulties for Kurka is “the apathy we encounter among some believers in our city,” though she was quick to add that “at the same time, it’s exciting to see those who are being awakened to truly care about people in our community.”

Some commit to pray an hour at the abortion clinic before work, while the homebound pray or fast from a distance. Others join the vigil for a few minutes.

Megan Walsted, 28 year-old parishioner of St. Benedict Church in Anchorage, was inspired to join the prayer campaign by her unborn daughter Sophia, who recently died in the womb. Walsted required a surgical procedure to deliver her dead baby, and in the middle of her anguish, she realized that “some women choose to have this procedure because they don’t want their babies.”

“I knew I could no longer just try to vote for the most pro-life politician. It was time for me to jump into the trenches and take action,” she said.

In its four years, 40 Days for Life reports that 1,561 babies are known to have been saved. Eighteen abortion workers — including one in Anchorage — have quit their jobs in the abortion industry and three abortion facilities closed after the campaigns.

As of day 21 in this year’s vigil, 236 babies are reported to have been saved, nationwide, although there are none were confirmed in Anchorage yet.

But Hill said it’s hard to know whether “you’ve save a life or not.”

“Who knows if a woman driving by saw us praying there, praying for her baby and praying for her, and she realized, ‘I can’t do this’” but never comes forward, she said.

Kurka said that in the first week of the vigil in Anchorage, one young woman, visibly pregnant, stopped and told a volunteer that earlier, she had been pressured to abort but didn’t. She picked up a sign and joined the prayers.

For more information about the local 40 Days for Life prayer vigil, visit 40daysforlife.com/anchorage/ or call Christine Kurka at 306-3263.

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Br. Craig Bonham, OMIBr. Bonham reappointed to lead Alaska Oblates

Brother Craig Bonham has been appointed for a second three-year term as District Superior of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Alaska. As District Superior, Brother Bonham oversees the eight Oblate missionaries in the Archdiocese of Anchorage and the Diocese of Juneau.

Brother Bonham is stationed on the Kenai Peninsula where, with a team of Oblate priests, he helps serve parishes in Homer, Kenai, Soldotna and Ninilchik.

After consulting with the Alaska Oblates, Father Louis Lougen, the provincial or head of the Oblate order in the United States, reappointed Brother Bonham on Sept. 23.

“We are grateful to Craig for the good and caring ministry he has provided in the District as superior,” Father Lougen said, “and we thank him for his willingness to continue to serve you in this way.”

In an interview with the Anchor, Brother Bonham explained that among duties as district superior, he serves as a “channel of communication” between the national superior and the Alaska team and organizes an annual meeting — a day of “prayer, community and fraternity” — for the state’s Oblates.

In the memo announcing Brother Bonham’s reappointment, Father Lougen acknowledged the “particular challenge” of maintaining the group’s cohesiveness in a district as widespread as Alaska and encouraged the Oblates to continue sharing “life and ministry together and to support one another in your demanding situation.”

The Oblates are a missionary religious order founded in 1816 by St. Eugene de Mazenod, a French nobleman. Their mission is to preach the Gospel to the poor. As “specialists in difficult missions,” the Oblates minister to the Catholic minority in Northern Europe and preach the Gospel in the former Soviet-bloc countries, South America and Africa. The first Oblate priest entered Alaska in 1862, and current Archbishop of Anchorage Roger Schwietz is also an Oblate.

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Archdiocese passes safe environment audit

According to the annual review commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Anchorage Archdiocese is in full compliance with the goals outlined in the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

The charter is a comprehensive set of procedures established by the U.S. bishops in 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors. The charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of further acts of abuse.

The archdiocese had 100 percent of priests, deacons, chancery staff and school educators in compliance according to the most recent audit, which was submitted for review in late August by Adrian Dominican Sister Jackie Stoll, the director of the archdiocese’s Safe Environment program.

Sister Stoll said parish employees are 100 percent compliant with the charter in background checks and 83 percent compliant in safe environment training. Church volunteers were 95 percent compliant with training. The goal is to reach 100 percent compliance through an online program.

“I believe that this program will make it much easier for folks to receive the needed safe environment training as it is done at their convenience and does not require them to attend an on-site class,” Sister Stoll said in an email to the Anchor. “This will be especially helpful in the rural areas where finding presenters was a particular challenge.”

The other area that needs improvement is the involvement of children and parents in parish faith formation classes, Sister Stoll said.

“Unfortunately only about 62 percent of our faith formation students received safe environment training in the last year (which is comparable to other dioceses around the country),” she wrote. “It seems that this low number is due mainly to overall poor attendance at faith formation classes in general. We will need to continue to work towards finding creative solutions to meeting this challenge.”

In 2008, the archdiocese did not pass the audit in two areas: procedures for reporting suspected abuse, and being fully compliant with safe-environment education of all the personnel of the archdiocese.

This year’s results are an improvement. Sister Stoll said she thinks the archdiocese has “come a long way over the last three years.”

“We face some unique challenges in that we are a large (diocese) area-wise with many of our parishes in rural areas,” she added, “however, we remain committed to providing education as the first step in preventing abuse of any kind, and to creating safe environments for all of God's people within our parishes, schools and institutions.”

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Feasts of All Saints, All Souls
The church remembers the faithful departed

On Nov. 1, Catholics celebrate the feast of All Saints — honoring all the saints in Heaven — who are known and yet unknown by the church. According to Canon Law, the feast is a holy day of obligation, like a Sunday, so Catholics must attend Mass and “abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.”

The vigil celebration of All Saints Day takes place the night before, on Halloween — which means “all hallows eve” or “all saints eve.”

Christians have reverenced the saints from early times. In the fourth century, it was common practice to mark the anniversary of a martyr’s death at the site where he or she was martyred. But there were more martyrs than days in the year — and many were martyred together in groups. In order not to miss anyone, it became necessary to establish a general memorial. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV declared Nov. 1 as the day for the entire Church Militant (those on Earth) to honor all the Church Triumphant (those in Heaven).

On Nov. 2 — All Souls Day — the church also remembers the faithful departed souls in Purgatory who are on their way to Heaven.

The Catholic Church teaches that the souls of people who die in the state of grace but who have not completed the temporal punishment for their venial sins make that reparation in Purgatory.

Especially on All Souls Day, Catholics can help the souls in Purgatory speed the purifying process by assisting at Mass, praying for them and giving alms. Also, during the week of Nov. 1 to Nov. 8, the faithful who visit a cemetery, pray for the dead and fulfill certain other conditions, can secure a plenary indulgence for souls in Purgatory. A plenary indulgence entirely remits the punishment due to sin.

In his 2006 All Saints Day homily, Pope Benedict XVI explained that remembering all the saints helps “reawaken within us the great longing to be like them; happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God’s friends. Being a Saint means living close to God, to live in his family. And this is the vocation of us all . . . .”

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CNS photo Catholic bishops share a light moment with Democrat senators during a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Sept. 17. They discussed a range of topics including health care and immigration reform.In health care debate: Catholics have sway
Legislators listen when Catholics voice concerns, bishops’ official tells Anchorage crowd

Time may be winding down to shape the final version of a health care reform bill, but so long as the clock is ticking, Catholics at every level of society have a moral obligation to weigh in. And when they do, people listen.

This was a key point that an official from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made to a gathering of priests, religious and lay leaders gathered at Holy Spirit Center in Anchorage.

“There is great interest in what the Catholic Church thinks about the health care debate,” said John Carr, executive director for the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Carr flew in from Washington, D.C. for a 24-hour stop in Anchorage to help bring clarity and rally Catholics to act on the issue of health care reform. The very next day he flew back to Washington, to resume ongoing meetings with key legislators in an effort to influence the continually evolving health care bills on Capitol Hill.

After three decades of working to advance Catholic social concerns, Carr said the good news for him is that Catholics are still heavily courted by public policy makers – a fact that must be taken advantage of, even if the church does not prevail on every detail.

Thanks to the Catholic Church’s long history of providing health care, running hospitals and advocating for the poor and vulnerable, lawmakers listen when the church weighs in, Carr noted — even if they don’t always agree.

“We are better at shaping the debate than determining the outcomes,” he said.

The key for Catholics is to remain engaged in the debate and avoid the trap of becoming obstructionist or hunkering down and becoming defensive, Carr said.

“Being for health reform helps us fix the bill,” Carr said of efforts by U.S. bishops to ensure that any final bill does not expand abortion funding or shut out immigrants and other vulnerable groups from health coverage.

If legislators sense the church leadership is merely fighting them, they will stop listening, Carr explained.

“They don’t deal with people who are not for health reform,” he said.

So long as politicians are listening, the Catholic Church can deliver a message and an approach to health care that is “truly comprehensive,” Carr said. The church’s view of health care — shaped by dozens of papal encyclicals and official writings — is built on fundamental spiritual principles.

The most basic of those is “life and dignity of the human person,” he said. “Without human life, nothing else is possible.”

Carr highlighted a signature document by U.S. bishops from 1993 that defined their position on health care. The document, “Comprehensive Health Care Reform,” teaches that “When destructive practices such as abortion or euthanasia seek acceptance as aspects of ‘health care’ alongside genuine elements of the healing arts, the very meaning of health care is distorted and threatened.”

To this end, Carr said bishops are working overtime to ensure that health care reform upholds current federal laws prohibiting the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. Additionally, the bishops are concerned that conscience rights are protected so that doctors are not forced to participate in procedures that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.

“If we got health care that kept these mandates, it would be the greatest pro-life victory since Roe v. Wade because it would affirm that abortion is not health care,” Carr said.

“The abortion battle is the toughest, and I think it is remarkable that after all these years, we have kept the battle going and it is starting to tip our way,” he said.

But health care is about more than opposing abortion, Carr affirmed.

“A lot of our conversation today has focused on abortion, but that is not the only pro-life issue in this discussion.”

Carr said health care must also address adequate support for pregnant women and care for the elderly and infirm and those who are simply too poor or unable to access basic care, such as immigrants.

Human dignity entails the ability to access health care. But getting people to see things that way is becoming more difficult, Carr said.

“We have become a society that thinks life is cheap,” he said. “The unborn and elderly are burdens, not gifts. The immigrants are a burden. People on death row are getting what they deserve.”

Despite challenges, the church’s mission is to continually strive to form individual consciences so that people will uphold the principles of social justice.

Access for all members of society is a key part of health reform, Carr said.

“Health care is a right,” he affirmed. That means people should have access to “comprehensive” care that does not depend on where they work, where they were born or what conditions they live with.

Carr pointed the audience to the bishops’ Web site on health care, which affirms that premiums and co-payments must not be too high, especially for the working poor.

Ultimately, Carr believes a health care bill will pass through Congress and be signed into law by the president.

“We can only hope that it will address the common good,” he said.


For the latest health care news from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, visit usccb.org/healthcare.

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John Carr

Alaska delegation could alter health care debate
And they listen to Catholics, say advocates

Alaska’s thee legislators on Capitol Hill can make a positive impact on any final version of a health care reform package by influencing the way their respective parties think about the issues, especially questions about protecting human life and making health care affordable and accessible for all.

This, according to a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, will only be a reality if Alaska’s Catholic community makes their wishes known.

Speaking Oct. 6 to a gathering of clergy, religious and lay leaders in Anchorage, John Carr, executive director for the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development said the influence of Alaska’s two U.S. senators and one congressman is needed in the national debate on health care reform.

In the U.S. Senate, both Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican could play a positive role, Carr told a gathering of about 50 people at Holy Spirit Center.

For Begich — who supports legal abortion —   Cass said the challenge is to help him see that he does not have to vote for a bill that would expand abortion by allowing for federal tax dollars to pay for the procedure.

And Murkowski can be called upon to take a leadership role within the Republican party by fighting for health coverage for legal immigrants and those who cannot afford insurance premiums and co-payments.

“There’s a way to deliver a message that does not attack,” Carr said. “Say, ‘I really look forward to your leadership on health care.’”

And then proceed to tell them what you’re looking forward to, Carr added.

“Do not underestimate what you bring to health care,” he said. “If we get a good health care bill, he said it will be because many people have weighed in.”

After working with top-level policy-makers for three decades, both with the USCCB and in politics, Carr said it doesn’t take millions of people to make an impact on legislators.

“If we all called our members of congress today, they would ask what happened in Anchorage today,” Carr told the 50 people gathered at Holy Spirit Center.

Carr also pointed to other strategies that can sway politicians.

“You can put together the archbishop and the hospital and you can make a difference,” he said. “Use the leverage you have and the people who know the senators and the congress person.”

Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz added, “Our elected officials are very open to hearing from us.”

Archbishop Schwietz said he had recently spoken to Sen. Murkowski and that she seemed  open to hearing about Catholic concerns.

“I encourage you to get active in this issue,” he said. “We need to do this together.”

Laurie Herman, a representative from Providence Health & Services, which operates the state’s only Catholic hospital, was also at the meeting. She said the Alaska delegation in Washington — which includes Rep. Don Young, a Republican — has respect for Catholic concerns in Alaska, especially since the church is so involved in helping the poor and vulnerable, both through the hospital and other Catholic outreaches.

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News & Notes

Parish profile series

Editor’s note: This is part of a series on parishes and missions in the Anchorage Archdiocese. The historical information  in this profile was provided by Barbara Jane Hill of Naknek.


Number of parishioners: About 10 families.


Pastor: Father Scott Garrett, stationed at Holy Rosary Church in Dillingham, has served as St. Theresa’s itinerant pastor since 2005. Barbara Jane (B. J.) Hill is the mission’s contact in Naknek.


History: In 1948, Jesuit Father George Endal traveled from the Lower Yukon to the Naknek Army Air Field (now King Salmon Air Station) to establish a Catholic mission.

Time and weather permitting, Father Endal flew from his Dillingham parish of Holy Rosary Church to celebrate Mass. The Army Air Field had an interdenominational chapel and provided lodging for visiting clergy. In the village of Naknek, Mass was celebrated in homes.

The Body of Christ grew, and on Sept. 17, 1953, eight people were confirmed by Jesuit Bishop Francis Gleeson at Naknek Army Air Field.

In the early 1950s, A. W. “Winn” Brindle, owner of Wards Cove and superintendent of Red Salmon Cannery, donated land and a small building to the Catholic Naknek community.

Across years, parishioners painted the little building, made repairs, built pews and added a bell tower. There was a small loft for the priest if he got weathered in Naknek.

During the winter months, the oil stove was put into service the night before Mass in hopes of warming the church enough not to freeze the wine or parishioners. Often however, the stove couldn’t keep up with winds and below-zero temperatures, so parishioners kept bundled up through Mass.

Throughout the years, supply priests and pastors in Dillingham staffed the mission. In their absence, religious sisters and laity helped deliver Communion and religious instruction.

In the early 1990s – and with the special help of parishioner JoAnn Bradford – the community built a new church building in between Naknek and King Salmon. The church was dedicated on June 5, 1994.

To outfit the church, parishioner Pat Krepel built an ambo and the Krepel family donated candleholders for the altar. Father LeRoy Clementich’s family contributed a hymn board and ambry for the holy oils, and through “outside” connections and appeals, Father Jim Kelley helped provide pews, vestments and altar cloths.


Little-known facts: St. Theresa’s first church building was a radio and telegraphic office for Red Salmon Cannery.


Outreaches: St. Theresa Mission ministers to commercial and sport fishers in June and July, who swell the tiny congregation to more than 45.


Learn more about the parish: Call B. J. Hill at 246-6652.

Native Masses change

Until further notice, the Anchorage Archdiocese’s Catholic Native Ministry is suspending the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass at the Alaska Native Medical Center. The Catholic parish nearest to the hospital is Holy Cross Church, at the intersection of Lake Otis and Lore. Sunday Masses there are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. (Saturday vigil at 6 p.m.).

As usual, every Thursday at 11 a.m., the Anchorage area Native Kateri Circle meets for prayer, faith formation and a potluck at St. Anthony Church’s parish hall. The contacts for the Anchorage group are Pearl Chanar at 245-2024 and Renee Nicholson at 243-2240

Also at St. Anthony, a monthly Native Mass and potluck takes place every third Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The next one is Oct. 17. For updates on the Catholic Native Ministry schedules, contact Sister Donna Kramer at dkramer@caa-ak.org.


Young adult movie night

On Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe young adults hosts a regular movie and discussion night called, “Lights! Camera! Faith!” The next movie, “Keeping the Faith” with Ed Norton, Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfmann, will be shown at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church’s Lunney Center. All young adults – age 18 to 40 – are welcome.


Shelter seeks wild game, volunteers

Brother Francis Shelter is seeking donations of wild game, white fish and salmon for its annual Spirit of Denali event for the homeless. The event on Friday, Oct. 23, takes place from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and celebrates Alaska Native culture with music, dancing and food. Many of the homeless served by the Catholic Social Services shelter are Alaska Native. Contributions may be delivered to the shelter (1021 East 3rd Ave.) prior to Oct. 19, if they need preparation. Also, help is needed to set-up, serve food and welcome guests.

For more information, email mbartley@cssalaska.org or call 222-7344.


Native prayer group in Wasilla

A new Native prayer group has formed in Wasilla. The group will meet every second and fourth Wednesday at 1 p.m., at Sacred Heart Church. For more information, contact Florence Clement at 376-4687 or Ruth Stewart at 841-9560.


Mass at UAA Oct. 29

On Oct. 29, 2 p.m., a Mass will be celebrated on the campus of UAA. It is hosted by the Cardinal Newman Club, a Catholic club for students, staff and faculty. The Oct. 29 Mass will take place in the Lyla Richardson Conference Room at the Student Union. For more information, call Sister Mary Peter Diaz at 297-7741.


Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites meet at Holy Cross

The Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites meet at Holy Cross Church (Lake Otis and Lore) on the last Sunday of every month from 12:15-1:15 p.m., following the 11 a.m. Mass. The group is comprised by laity and clergy who “live the charism” of Carmelite spirituality in the secular life. For more information, contact Phyllis Shepherd at juris83@yahoo.com.


Why is the Catholic Church pro-life?

During Respect Life Month, Holy Family Cathedral will host a series of discussions on the late Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, the “Gospel of Life,” and the biblical and philosophical foundations of the Catholic Church’s position on life.

The series — led by visiting Dominican Brother Dominic David Maichrowicz — will run Mondays in October at 7 p.m. at the cathedral (West 5th Ave. at H St.). The remaining sessions will address, on Oct. 19: The being of the unborn child and Oct. 26: Common misconceptions about the Catholic position on life.

The discussions are free and open to the public.


Free pro-life talks by Fr. Frank Pavone

On Sat., Oct. 17, 2 p.m., Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life will deliver a talk on “The Dignity of the Human Person: Why choose life?” The talk which is free and open to the public – will take place at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 2901 Huffman Road. It is sponsored by the Respect Life Committees of St. Andrew Church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church and Holy Family Cathedral. On Oct. 16, 7-9 p.m., Father Pavone will speak at the Hacienda Mexican Restaurant in Wasilla on the future of the pro-life movement and the Catholic understanding of the “seamless garment” when it comes to pro-life issues. Both events are free and open to the public.


 Blessing of the pets: hermit crabs and all

Sacred Heart pastor, Father Bill Fournier, holds his cat Mugsy during the annual parish pet blessing, Oct. 4, on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi at Sacred Heart Church in Wasilla. He estimated that nearly 75 people attended the  pet blessing, bringing cats, dogs, a white rat and even hermit crabs.

Father Fournier told the Anchor that his cat Mugsy hosted the event. “He’s very sociable so I bring him from home to the office every day,” he said.

Sacred Heart was one of many parishes throughout the Anchorage Archdiocese and across the country that celebrated the Feast of St. Francis, with an annual blessing of pets.

St. Francis, named the patron of ecology by Pope John Paul II, lived in central Italy in the 12th century. His love of animals and all of creation has endeared him to people of many faiths.

Other Christian denominations also celebrate an annual blessing of pets in connection with the beloved saint.


Upcoming feast days in October

Oct. 16, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

A 17th-century nun of the Visitation sisters in France who received visions of Jesus Christ. Christ asked her to propagate the devotion to his Sacred Heart “that has so loved men” and sought a feast of reparation for the ingratitude shown by most in the face of that great love.


Oct. 17, St. Ignatius of Antioch

Appointed by St. Peter, St. Ignatius was bishop of Antioch and author of many of the earliest church writings on the Eucharist, the Incarnation and marriage. He was martyred in Rome and is mentioned in the prayers of the Mass.


Oct. 19, St. Isaac Jogues and companions

The “North American Martyrs” – six Jesuit priests and two Jesuit lay helpers who were killed in the 1600s for trying to bring Christianity to the Iroquois Indians of present-day upstate New York. One, Father Rene Goupil was martyred while making the sign of the cross on a child. And despite having been tortured and escaping, Father Isaac Jogues returned to the North American mission, where he lost his life for the faith.


Oct. 23, St. John of Capistrano

Italian lawyer, then Franciscan who preached and revived the faith in Eastern Europe in the late 1300s and early 1400s. He also led part of the Christian army at the Battle of Belgrade to defend Europe from the advancing Turks.


Oct. 28, St. Simon and St. Jude

St. Simon, “the Zealot” (Lk 6:15) and St. Jude, also known as “Thaddeus” or “Courageous,” lived at the time of Jesus. According to tradition, after Christ’s Ascension, St. Simon and St. Jude traveled to Mesopotamia and Persia, where they evangelized and were martyred. They are mentioned in the prayers of the Mass.

— Catholic Anchor report


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Archbishop’s Calendar

Oct. 17, 5 p.m., Confirmation, St. Patrick Church

Oct. 18-20, Meetings of Northwest Association of Bishops and Religious Superiors, Boise, Id.

Oct. 20-22, Meetings of Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops

Oct. 21, 12 p.m., Alaskan Federation of Natives Mass, Holy Family Cathedral

Oct. 23-26, Pastoral visit, Dutch Harbor

Oct. 29, 9 a.m., Mass, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church


 Note: Events are in Anchorage unless noted.

Community Calendar

Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m., Oktoberfest dinner dance, Parish hall, St. Patrick Church

Oct. 17, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Community Health Fair, Soldotna High School, 425 West Marydale, Soldotna

Oct. 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Annual craft bazaar, Miki Center, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church

Oct. 29, 2 p.m., Mass for college students, staff and faculty, Lyla Richardson Conference Room, Student Union, UAA

Oct. 17, 2 p.m., Fr. Frank Pavone talk on “The Dignity of the Human Person:  Why choose life?,” St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church

Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m., Native Mass, St. Anthony Church

Oct. 19, 7 p.m., Respect Life Month lecture series (The being of the unborn child), Holy Family Cathedral

Oct. 29, 7 p.m., Young adults’ movie/discussion night, Lunney Center, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Oct. 26, 7 p.m., Respect Life Month lecture series (Common misconceptions about the Catholic position on life), Holy Family Cathedral


Note: Events are in Anchorage unless noted.


Father Dan HebertPriest Profile

Editor’s note: In conjunction with Catholic Church’s world-wide celebration of the Year for Priests, the Anchor is publishing profiles of the priests serving in the Archdiocese of Anchorage.


Father Dan Hebert has been pastor of Holy Cross Church in Anchorage since July 2001. On May 5, 1979 then Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley (now retired) ordained Father Hebert to the priesthood in his childhood parish of St. Patrick in Kankakee, Illinois. He was ordained a diocesan priest for the Archdiocese of Anchorage.


What was your inspiration to pursue the priesthood?

At a very young age, I was interested in being a priest. I was raised in a Catholic home with my parents and three sisters and one brother. My life was living and seeing priests and religious sisters giving of themselves in the service of others. I believe my call to be a priest is a mystery of how God inspired me to go forth and be a priest. Many circumstances and events happened that kept pointing towards priesthood. If anyone wants to hear my story, don’t hesitate to ask me.


What is the greatest challenge and joy of being a priest?

My greatest challenge, and I welcome this, is keeping my eyes fixed on God in all I do as a priest. The world today offers many obstacles, and to conquer these takes the grace of God that comes primarily through prayer. My greatest joy is when I can help people to find God in their lives.


What is your favorite saint or devotion, and why?

My patron saint is St. John Vianney, a man who hungered to be a priest and struggled with his studies but persevered and was ordained. He also had a great love for the Eucharist. This is my life, as well. My seminary days found me struggling with the studies, and yet through the grace of God, I graduated with a master’s of divinity degree in Theology and was ordained. I give all the credit to our God through the intercession of St. John Vianney. I used to pray a prayer that became second nature: “God, if you want me to be a priest, please give me the knowledge and help I need to make it.” My devotion in the seminary was and is still now adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.


What hobbies do you enjoy in your free time?

I love hiking, power-walking and biking. I also enjoy a good book and a good adventure movie with popcorn (no butter).


What is unique about being a priest in Alaska?

I arrived in Alaska in 1972 as a religious brother. My attraction to Alaska was the missionary spirit. I feel the uniqueness is that we are still building in many ways the church here in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, and I have been blessed to be a part of this as a priest for over 30 years.