Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
After a long period of prayer, reflection and consultation with diocesan leaders and outside specialists, I find a need to restructure the chancery's operations. This restructure is intended to make our missionary diocese more responsive to the peoples' needs. Having worked with many to review our operations, all agreed changes were necessary as the current structure is not sustainable. I am sensitive to the varied emotions this announcement will create. Please know, these changes are not made lightly.
Since becoming your bishop, in my travels throughout the diocese, I have visited and anointed the sick in their homes, talked with people following Mass and in pastoral gatherings. Time and again people have asked for help to strengthen their families. This desire finds an eloquent expression in Pope Francis' recent Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia:
"The covenant of love and fidelity lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth illuminates the principle which gives shape to every family, and enables it better to face the vicissitudes of life and history. On this basis, every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world." Amoris Laetitia p51-52
Therefore it seems appropriate to have an office of Faith and Family Formation, which will include many of the duties of Religious Education and Youth Ministry.
I am asking Fr. Robert Fath to direct the office. Fr. Robert already oversees our vocations efforts, and I view this new office, and his expanded role as united at the deepest level. Good vocations come from healthy families. As director of this office, Fr. Robert will travel throughout the diocese and work collaboratively with ministers and the people to nurture this vision.
We are also redistributing roles and responsibilities of several other offices in the chancery. Stephen Ministry, will be funded by and operate out of the Cathedral. Human Resources will be dissolved with many of its tasks absorbed at the statewide level by the Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops. Also, being restructured is our diocesan office of Development. We are realigning and combining our stewardship efforts to operate more efficiently and to explore new ventures.
I know this announcement will be hard for some. Several of those being released in this plan have been with us for years and have served with distinction. I remain grateful for their service. I thank them and the people who continue to serve us from the bottom of my heart. Please continue to pray for our diocese and the fine men and women who serve it and have served it so well over the years. Please know I join you in those prayers.
Your Brother in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks