No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). We know this scripture speaks of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. We know this real act in history--the Son of God coming down from heaven to become man and dying on a cross--is the foundation of our redemption. We know that through Christ’s sacrifice, we were adopted into God’s family. We are his children! We are children of a loving father who sustains and nurtures us every second of every day. In love, he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved (Ephesians 5:1).
So God has adopted you. But have you adopted your children?
We currently have only 18 priests to minister in 46 parishes across our expansive diocese. In order to better serve the faithful of our diocese, Bishop Chad Zielinski is making some pastoral changes this summer.
Effective 2 July 2018, Fr. Stan Jaszek will be assigned to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. Effective 2 July 2018, Fr. Stan will be assigned to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. Fr. Thomas Sagili will move from his current assignment on the Seward Peninsula to assume the role of Parochial Vicar and remain in residence at Saint Patrick’s Church in Barrow, AK on 29 June 2018. Fr. Kaspar Mallavarapu will remain the Pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church.
Please continue to pray for vocations in the Diocese of Fairbanks.
The best way we can protect our Church (parishes and schools) from sexual predators is to prevent predators from working with youth or vulnerable adults. Therefore our first line of defense is to conduct a background check. “A thorough, consistent screening process may also discourage would-be offenders from targeting your organization [the Church]….[therefore] an employee or volunteer….must be screened before getting started….[this] should include: completion of an application, interviews, reference checks and criminal background check.” (Praesidium Report)
This month’s goal: to have all Church employees and volunteers update their background check if it has not been done in over five years. How do you know if you need one? Check with your immediate supervisor. We, the Fairbanks Diocese, are mandated by the USCCB to have anyone listed below background checked and then again every five years thereafter. Following is the list of those who need a background check.
Thank you so much to everyone who helped make our beautiful annual Chrism Mass and the reception that followed such a huge success this year. Each person plays a vital part in orchestrating these events, and it takes many people, all working together as a team, to achieve that level of success.
For the past 12 years, I have been traveling to rural churches and meeting with Alaskan native elders asking them to identify photographs from the Chancery Archive. In all those years, never have I had a community so quick to open their culture to me before. This last trip in February, I spent two weeks in Pilot Station and Saint Mary’s. The timing of this trip allowed me to observe the potlatch ceremonies (or Curukaq in Yup’ik) in Saint Mary’s. A potlatch is a gift-giving gathering of Alaskan natives where those being given Yup’ik names are also presented to the community.
Each spring, seminarians around the country prepare for their annual evaluations. While the particulars of the evaluation process vary from seminary to seminary, the annual review offers an in-depth look at their progression toward ordination to the priesthood based on the four pillars of seminary formation: academic, spiritual, human, and pastoral formation. The annual evaluation offers an opportunity for the seminarian, seminary formation director, and diocesan vocation director to dialogue concerning areas of development in which the seminarian is excelling and areas of recommended growth in the coming years.
ATHEISTS HAVE FAITH, TOO
Each step forward in Christianity is a step in faith. Faith is simply believing in something you cannot see, touch, smell, hear, or taste. But I am going to tell you that even unbelievers have faith. They don't always know they have faith, but they do. Atheists especially scoff or laugh when you tell them they have faith.
A friend of mine named Doug calls himself an atheist. He is a very intelligent man - a doctor, in fact. He retired recently and rides bikes with me often early in the morning, not long after the sun rises. I sometimes challenge him to help him see the way to Jesus in his life.
During a recent ride, I spoke to Doug about faith. I told him he already has faith. He laughed and said he doesn't believe in something he cannot see. This is empiricalism, which is just a big word to explain a mindset that says everything can be reduced to science, whether it's biology, physics, or math.
I told Doug he has faith the sun will rise tomorrow. He laughed and said science explains that through astronomy, the science of the planet and stars. I told him he has faith the flowers in his garden will break through the ground and eventually bloom to bring beauty to the world. Another laugh as he explained this process through plant biology.
Doug's wife is a doctor, too, who also recently retired. She is from China and they often did surgeries on different patients together in the hospital. I told him it was good that he was so smart in so many sciences and that with that training, he could scientifically explain so many things that were going to happen tomorrow. But I persisted. As we peddled near a great river, I asked if his wife was going to love him tomorrow.
After this, Doug got quiet. A few moments later, he answered, "Yes, she will love me tomorrow!" I asked, "How can you explain that love?" He did not have a science for love, of course, for love is not something you can explain with science. Doug did not know it, but he had just taken a step forward in faith! He was believing in love—something he cannot see.
Our Catholic faith tells us God sent his son to us out of Love. We believe this, although love is something you cannot see. Yet through our faith, we know Jesus walked the earth, died for our sins, and rose in three days to be with us forever. God did this for us. He gave us his son because he loved us first. Believing in this is how we take part in God's plan for our salvation. It's how our faith started.
My doctor friend, Doug, discovered a mystery of faith in the form of love the day we had that conversation. He was able to see he in fact did have some faith and that science could not explain everything—especially love.
Paul Hollomon grew up in Anchorage, then worked as a bush pilot in western Alaska. He served as a Methodist minister in his 30s, then converted to Catholicism. He attended Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon, where he befriended Bishop Chad Zielinski while earning his Master's in Theology and Scripture. Paul and his wife, Michele, raised and homeschooled their four children in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where they still reside. He can be reached at Paulhowabout@aol.com.
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
As we begin our Lenten journey, we recall that moment in Scripture when Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit. Lent is that time when the same Holy Spirit also leads us through 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to draw closer to Christ, too.
On Ash Wednesday, the Catholic Bishops of Alaska issued, "Living in the Image and Likeness of God: Human Dignity and Divine Designs," a pastoral letter that explores what it means to be "made in the image and likeness of God." The letter provides an authentically Catholic lens through which to view some of the most prominent issues of our times. A copy is available on our diocesan website (www.dioceseoffairbanks.org), and printed copies will be available in parishes shortly.
There is nothing new in this pastoral letter; it simply reiterates the teachings given to us by Christ and His apostles. We simply wish to remind the faithful that God has given us the great gifts of religious freedom, sexuality, and marriage to help us experience the true joy and love He intends. When lived according to God's plan, these gifts not only help us live abundantly now, but will lead us to an eternally joyful communion with God and each other in heaven.
Unfortunately, many people today don't view the Church's teachings on these gifts as divine guidance from a loving Father. The rejection of Christ's core teachings is evident not only in the different forms of legislation that set public policy contrary to the truth, but in a growing social acceptance of sin and moral relativism, even among some within the Church.
As your shepherds, however, we have a sacred duty to be the voice of Christ, and promote the truth about the sacredness of human life, God's plan for sexuality, and the divine institution of marriage. We believe any societal solutions proposed for these issues must respect and promote God's design for human life and love. As people made "in the image and likeness of God," we are called to a challenging task: To draw closer to Christ by living out our faith while still being respectful to those who hold different beliefs. This will be difficult, of course, but "All things are possible with God" (Matthew 19:26).
We know your families wrestle with difficult, complex issues; we know being faithful to Christ may be difficult and even sacrificial at times. Because of that, we encourage dialogue within families and within parishes about these issues. We wish to journey with you amidst your struggles, so that we may all draw closer to Christ. Accompanying each other will open up the Gospel, and better enable us all to live the full and joyful lives God intends for each of us.
Please read the pastoral letter and share it with your families and friends. And as always, pray for me, as I keep you and your families in prayer this Lenten season.
Sincerely in Christ,
Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska