A few days ago a concerned parent in the Fairbanks area forwarded an email from the FNSB School District encouraging parents to be aware of a new series on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why.” The show is rated MA, for mature audiences only. I had heard about the series in passing, but until receiving this email I thought little about it. Since then, though, I have taken the opportunity to watch the first episode and feel compelled to urge extreme caution and draw awareness to the themes presented in this increasingly popular show among our young people. I have only watched one episode and was left very disturbed and concerned by it and am reticent to continue watching. These hesitations seem to be confirmed by mental health professionals, clergy, and concerned teachers, parents and youth ministers who have watched the show in its entirety.
Subject: Transfer of Fr. Marek Szczur to Diocese of Wilmington
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I received a letter from Bishop Krzysztof Nitkiewicz that Fr. Marek Szczur requested to transfer to the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware. Fr. Szczur is a priest of the Diocese of Sandomierz, Poland and through the generosity of his bishop; he has served in the Diocese of Fairbanks for eight years. I am most thankful to Fr. Marek for his years of dedicated ministry to our mission work in Northern Alaska, and grateful to his bishop for this support.
"The Risen Christ," that phrase that comes so easily to our lips this season is worth reflecting on. If we aren't startled and awed by it, we are not paying attention.
Consider the women who appear in Matthew's Gospel28: 1-10. That's the gospel, or "Good News" proclaimed from the ambo on Easter. During the first day of the week the two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, are the ftrst to reach the tomb and receive the news of the Risen Christ. It's not just anyone who tells them. It is an angel who counsels them, "Do not be afraid." The angel then sends them to share the great news. Matthew tells us they were "fearful yet oveljoyed." If it were me, I'm sure I would be petrified. I don't think I would be ftt to talk, let alone share the glad tidings.
Sacred Heart Cathedral – Fairbanks, AK Holy Thursday - 7pm Mass with Adoration Good Friday - 7pm Easter Vigil Saturday - 8pm Easter Sunday - 8am, 11am and 1pm (in Spanish)
St. Raphael’s – Fairbanks, AK Holy Thursday - 7pm Mas with Adoration ending at midnight Good Friday - 7pm Stations of the Cross Easter Vigi - Saturday 7pm Service Easter Sunda - 9:30am & 11:3am Mass
Immaculate Conception – Fairbanks, AK Holy Thursday - 7pm Mass with Adoration ending at midnight Good Friday - 12noon Stations of the Cross & 7pm Service Easter Vigil Saturday - 9pm Mass Easter Sunday - 8am & 10am Masses
St. Mark’s – Fairbanks, AK Holy Thursday Last Supper - 5pm at 517 Copper Lane Chapel Good Friday - 5pm Stations of the Cross No Easter Vigil Service (Saturday) Easter Sunday - 5:30pm Mass
St. Nicholas – North Pole, AK Holy Thursday - 7 PM-Mass of the Lord’s Supper followed by Adoration and confession until midnight Good Friday - 3 PM-Stations of the Cross 7 PM - Lord’s Passion with Veneration of the Cross Easter Vigil Saturday - 8 P Easter Sunday - 9 AM & Noon
Our readings present some very powerful images. The first reading that we have today is from Ez 37: 12-14 but it is important to know what precedes these verses, and there is an image of dead bones. An image that has no life, that seems to have all hope gone. By the request of the Lord, Ezekiel is told to prophesy over the dead bones. So, by God's request, that which seems dead, has no life, lacks relationship with God and others is given new life by the Lord's request.
So, this reading came at the time of Babylonian Exile. The Jews were exiled from their homeland, and some wandered away from the faith, they gave up on God and fell into pagan practices and the worship of foreign Gods. Essentially, they abandoned the covenant. God sees the incredible potential to breathe new life into them and renew this covenant which we here about today.
In the second reading, Paul is writing to the Romans reminding them that the body which is dead because of sin will have new life. The Spirit of God himself will come into them.
the Gospel is one of my favorites. Jesus was friends with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. So, Jesus is a few days journey away from the village where they live but word comes to him that Lazarus has died. So, Jesus is moved on two levels: 1) a very personal level as it is noted by the bystanders that "see how he loved Lazarus,” 2)the other level is that he desires to raise Lazarus so the power of God will be revealed.
So, as we are in our Lenten journey, we are called to do two things: 1) to be transformed as we encounter Christ and he gives us new life 2) to be a disciple, a follower of Christ, so that we can lead others to him.
So, let us journey with Christ to the tomb of Lazarus. The tomb represents that which is dead within us. It represents those areas of our life where we are blinded by sinfulness. It represents that place where we have buried, anger, hatred, revenge or maybe wounds or even horrific abuses that may have been caused to us by another. Sometimes we want to bury our problems there, and the rock that covers the tomb can be our unwillingness to face these challenges because of the potential pain to face them, so we cover them with distractions. These distractions can come in many forms: being consumed with just about anything to the point of obsession, we can be consumed with over eating, drinking too much, turning toward narcotic substances, or indulging in computer world or television.
So, we come to the tomb with Jesus. Listen to Jesus! He commands that the stone be rolled back. There is fear of a stench or something that might be unpleasant. He is not worried. By the very words of Christ, he commands, "Lazarus come forth." He calls our name, our name which was pronounced in our baptism, to come forth from all this darkness. Then he commands the friends of Lazarus to untie him.
Thirty-two Seminarians Move Closer to the Priesthood in Annual Ministries Mass
MOUNT ANGEL, Ore. – In a concelebrated Mass on Thursday, March 16, in the Mount Angel Abbey church, 32 seminarians of Mount Angel Seminary were instituted into the ministries of Acolyte and Lector. For these men, from 18 dioceses and religious communities from around the western United States and beyond, this moved them closer toward ordination as Catholic priests.
Presided over by the Most Rev. Peter F. Christensen, Bishop of Boise, those being instituted in the ministries were called to make a heart-felt response to their calling to the priesthood. In explaining the meaning of the morning liturgy, Bishop Christensen referred to the First Reading from the Book of Nehemiah. In the reading, said Bishop Christensen, “Ezra read clearly from the Book of the Law. As he read, the response of the people was that they began to weep. They were moved to tears.”
That is also reminiscent of the passage in Hebrews: “God’s word is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword.” This is a testament to the power of the Word of God, said Bishop Christensen, that these newly instituted Lectors are called to proclaim to God’s people.
Bishop Christensen also reminded the seminarians and congregation that we tend to live a fast-paced life. “We are in haste,” he said, “and there is a danger that we don’t take time to ponder, think, and reflect.” Celebrations of the Liturgy, such as this Ministries Mass, said the bishop, invite us to stop, slow down, and reflect about why we are here and why it is important.
On behalf of their bishop or religious superior, Bishop Christensen instituted the following men into the ministry of Lector: from the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Ethan Alano and Anthony Galati; from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Jordan Sanchez; from the Archdiocese of Seattle, Junghoon (Val) Park; from the Diocese of Baker, Caleb Cunningham; from the Diocese of Boise, Nelson Cintra, Joshua Falce, Peter Murphy; from the Diocese of Fairbanks, Benjamin Doudna; from the Diocese of Fresno, Bonaventure Okoro; from the Diocese of Las Vegas, Rogelio Molina Carrillo; from the Diocese of Orange, Cheeyoon Chun; from the Diocese of Reno, Jesús Gonzalez; from the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Luis de Dios Hernandez, Dominic Sternhagen; from the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, Viane Ilimaleota; from the Diocese of San Diego, Josué Jiménez; from Mount Angel Abbey, Br. Israel Sanchez, O.S.B.; from the Order of Discalced Carmelites, Br. John Cannon, O.C.D.; from the Saint John Society, Juan Mas Feijoo, Francesco Paolillo.
On behalf of their bishop or religious superior, Bishop Christensen instituted the following men into the ministry of Acolyte: from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Joseph Baltz, Nathan Lopez, Timothy Meurer; from the Diocese of Boise, John Mosier; from the Diocese of Orange, Michael Rizzo, Phillip Shifflet; from the Diocese of Sacramento, Ryan Mahar; from the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Luis de Dios Hernandez, Dominic Sternhagen; from the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, Viane Ilimaleota; from the Diocese of San Diego, Raymond Philip Napuli, Michael O’Connor; from Mount Angel Abbey, Br. Timothy Kalange, O.S.B., Br. Jesús Maria Leija, O.S.B.
A reception was held for the new Lectors, Acolytes, visitors, faculty, staff, and monks in Aquinas Hall following the Mass.
The season of Lent begins on March 1, 2017 with Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year until the beginning of their 60th year. Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal. Abstinence (from meat) is obligatory for all who have completed their 14th year of age (c. 1252). If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the "paschal fast" to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and to prepare to share more fully and celebrate more readily his Resurrection (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, 109). Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of abstinence (from meat) for all who have completed their 14th year. As always, anyone for whom fasting or abstinence would pose a health risk is excused.
Re: Rite of Matrimony and Interfaith Catholic-Orthodox Marriages
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
On 30 December 2016 (the Feast of the Holy Family) changes to the Rite of Matrimony came into full force throughout the dioceses of the United States. Since that date, no other rite for the Sacrament of Matrimony is permitted to be used in the Diocese of Fairbanks. If you have not yet ordered a copy of the new ritual, please do so immediately. I would ask that once your new books have arrived that the old ones be removed from your offices and sacristies. Please remember that ritual books are not to be thrown out, but rather burned, for disposal.
Last Friday, January 27, President Trump issued an EXECUTIVE ORDER entitled: PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES. We, the Catholic Bishops of Alaska, find the recent Executive Order troubling in that it violates our longstanding practice as a nation with fundamental human principles of justice to 'welcome the stranger' (Matthew 25:35). As a nation founded in part on religious liberty, and that all were to be treated as equal, we are capable of much better. We are called to a higher standard to work for righteousness, to be merciful and to be peacemakers. (Matthew 5: 3-10) These values are at the heart of the common good, which is the goal of all governmental institutions.
As Catholics, we appreciate the heightened concern regarding Christians who have been persecuted because of their faith. Many have been murdered and witnessed the destruction of their places of worship. However, we are troubled by any actions that would target a particular group of persons based upon the ethnicity, language they speak, the religion they profess and their country of origin.
Sunday, January 29 marks the beginning of Catholic Schools Week throughout the country. During this time, the Diocese of Fairbanks joins with other Dioceses throughout the U.S. to celebrate the significant influence that Catholic schools have in the education and faith formation of our young people.
I find it remarkable and inspiring that our schools, Immaculate Conception School and Monroe Catholic JuniorSenior High School have been educating students for over 70 years. I am grateful for the Sisters of Providence, the Jesuits, our local priests and parishioners who worked together to make Catholic education possible here in Fairbanks since 1946. I am grateful to the Society of Jesus which partners with the diocese in missioning these schools; where each day students, faculty and parents encounter the pillars of"being religious, open to growth, loving, committed to social justice and intellectually competent."
The national theme for this year's celebration is "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service," which focuses on the key elements of Catholic education: faith formation, academic excellence and service to others. It is because of this focus that families make great sacrifices to send their children to Immaculate Conception School and Monroe Catholic Junior-Senior High School.
I invite you to visit the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks during this important week to enjoy the various activities that will occur. Please bring your friends and neighbors, particularly those who may be considering Catholic education for their children.
In particular, I encourage you to attend the all school Mass at which 1 will be the celebrant on Wednesday, February 1, 9am at Holy Family Chapel.
In his recent document on the family, The Joy of Love, Pope Francis reminds mothers, fathers and children about their universal call to holiness. I want to encourage and thank parents for their continued response to follow Christ in their families. Also, I want to thank our parishes, Catholic school staff and many volunteers assisting in their faith formation. May Our Lord Jesus continue to bless all who participate in ministry to our young people.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski Catholic Bishop of Northem Alaska Diocese of Fairbanks