“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.
I write to you as the Shepherd of the Diocese of Fairbanks with a very profound sadness in my heart as more information surfaces regarding abuse in our Church by Church personnel; but more than anything I am most saddened by the cover up and lack of oversight by Church personnel and leaders. Please see the statement given 27 August from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the USCCB at http://www.usccb.org/news/2018/18-143.cfm.
As more and more information surfaces in the Church, we must continue to pray for spiritual conversion and healing of the Church through penance, prayer and fasting. As we gathered in Fairbanks for Spiritual Formation Days, 21-23 Aug, we had a very successful day of prayer, fasting and penance on 21 August. All parishioners of the Road System parishes were invited to participate in a midday Mass at the Cathedral which was filled. Also, from 8am-5pm we had exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet prayed throughout the day. We received many positive responses from participants to continue this. Pat Tam created a powerful Prayer Service that was used throughout the Y-K Region that received great support. Many participants were supportive and encouraged more days of prayer in the future.
There is a longstanding tradition within the Church to invoke the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel when we feel the Church is being attacked by evil. At the end of the Mass on 21 August, I invited everyone to kneel and together we prayed the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. There were many positive comments asking us to pray this prayer throughout the Diocese of Fairbanks. I am asking the Prayer to St. Michael to be prayed at the end of every Mass and Communion Service in the Diocese of Fairbanks. We turn to St. Michael asking for his intercession to be protected from the evil one as we draw closer to Christ through the Sacraments of the Church.
We will gather on 6-8 November for Spiritual Formation Days. So, on Tuesday, 6 November, we will have the entire day dedicated to penance, fasting and prayer. I have asked Fr. Robert Fath to organize these Spiritual Formation Days. He will send out something in the next week or so asking all parishes to participate in some way in this day of prayer, fasting and penance. If you have materials that were used or ideas, please send them along to Fr. Fath who will forward them to the three regions in the diocese.
This past Sunday we concluded John 6, The Bread of Life Discourse, and I find this to be a most fitting guidance for our Diocese and the Church at large. I fully realize that many of the good people of God are frustrated, exhausted with patience, angered, lacking trust with Church leadership. I put myself in this category but also have accountability to Christ the Good Shepherd as the Shepherd of the Diocese of Fairbanks. I truly believe that Jesus is confronting us with the question He presented to his own disciples in the Gospel this past Sunday, “Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” At this moment in the Church, we must turn more intensely to Jesus Christ in the Holy Mass who comes to us as the Bread of Life. As disciples of Christ, we must surrender everything to Jesus. We need to encounter Him “most intimately” in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is the “source and summit of the Christian life (Lumen Gentium 11).
As the Shepherd of the Diocese of Fairbanks, it stings my heart to realize that many of our parishes are only able to participate in Mass every 6-8 weeks. As I tell this story during my Mission Appeal trips, I meet many people after Mass who express their amazement and concern. Recently, I received a very sizeable check from a couple in San Diego to cover the entire salary of a priest for one year so those in our remote villages can participate in Mass more frequently.
So, I want to personally thank all our priests, religious and lay ministers serving in our remote villages for the many sacrifices they make. I am appealing to our priests to make every effort and sacrifice to increase your presence in the various remote parishes to specifically offer the Mass. I fully realize this will increase expenses. People are being very generous to us for this single reason, so I will find and provide the needed monies for travel. I am convinced that drawing closer to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist at Mass, and encountering Him most intimately as the Bread of Life, will bring us more closely united as a diocese as the Mystical Body of Christ. It is through our worship at Mass, reception of the Holy Eucharist, regular confession, prayer, fasting and penance that spiritual conversion will come to our Church.
I am most grateful to each person and family for the sacrifices they take on for spiritual conversion and healing of our Church.
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Brothers and Sisters in Christ: The Second Vatican Council describes the celebration of the Eucharist as the “source and summit” of our lives as faithful Christians. Christ strengthens and nourishes us through the Scriptures and with His Body and Blood in order to carry out His mission in the world. Secondarily, though, the Eucharistic celebration is meant to unite the Body of Christ. This union is accomplished through the common readings and prayers of the Mass, as well as the common postures that they take during worship.
In 1964, when I was nine years old and my little sister was four, our family lived in Eagle River, Alaska, a small town near Anchorage. My parents decided to drive nearly 4,000 miles to Memphis, Tennessee, to spend Christmas with my father’s family. A few years earlier, we had driven the Alcan highway in summer to visit family in the “lower 48.” Even that had been quite an adventure, as the highway only had a few hundred miles of paved road back then. This time, however, we were headed south in frigid 30 to 40 degrees below zero weather.
Letter to the Bishops regarding the new revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty
1. The Holy Father Pope Francis, in his Discourse on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum, by which John Paul II promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, asked that the teaching on the death penalty be reformulated so as to better reflect the development of the doctrine on this point that has taken place in recent times. This development centers principally on the clearer awareness of the Church for the respect due to every human life. Along this line, John Paul II affirmed: “Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.”
Given the news in the past few weeks regarding Church leadership and sexual abuse, I have had many discussions with people who have expressed outrage, frustration, questions, confusion, and lack of trust in Church leadership. As one person said, the news has brought “a deep sense of darkness that calls out for the grace and light of Christ.”
More than anything, these tragic events are a call to spiritual conversion.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement that he will retire has catapulted Roe v. Wade (the Supreme Court's landmark abortion case) into the news. Pro-abortion groups are pulling out all the stops to urge the U.S. Senate to reject any nominee who does not promise to publicly endorse Roe. And they are misrepresenting the legal and social reality of Roe and what would happen if it is overturned.
The upcoming Supreme Court vacancy provides us with yet another occasion requiring focused prayer. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support or oppose the confirmation of any presidential nominee. However, given this historic moment, the U.S. bishops are urging all people of good will to pray that a change in the U.S. Supreme Court may move our nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life.
Friday, August 3, 2018 to Friday, September 28, 2018, the weekly Call to Prayer will be adapted as a nine-week Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life. In addition to the current invitation to fast on Fridays, participants are encouraged to pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the intention of the novena.
Participants will also be provided with weekly opportunities to learn more about Roe v. Wade, and share that information with their representatives.
Their stories are horrific. They arrive at our boarders looking for a better life. Unaccompanied minors whose parents tell them go, run for your lives. Single mothers fleeing with their little ones to escape sex trafficking by local gangs. Families and asylum seekers trying to find a better life, free from violence and extortion. The human toll currently happening at our borders is unacceptable on so many levels.
We, the Catholic Bishops of Alaska, stand in solidarity with Bishops from across the United States condemning this deplorable situation. It must come to an immediate end. Executive and congressional leadership must work together in solving this crisis.
As citizens of this country and as pastors, we turn our attention to the inhumane and disgraceful practice of separating children from their parents at the US / Mexico border. As of Friday, June 15, the United States Department of Homeland Security confirmed 1,995 minors traveling with 1,940 adults were separated from April 19 through May 31. Some of these children are as young as 18 months old. The lack of humanity is overwhelming.
We raise our voices in protest against such injustice, and join our hearts in solidarity with these immigrant families who seek only safety and asylum. We acknowledge the right of the government to secure our borders, but implore it be accomplished without damaging young lives or rupturing family bonds. A just nation can and must do better. This deplorable situation highlights the need for the leaders in our country to come together in service of the Common Good and reform our nation’s immigration laws. Sincerely,
+Paul D. Etienne, D.D., S.T.L., Archdiocese of Anchorage
+Chad Zielinski, Diocese of Fairbanks
+Andrew Bellisario, C.M., Diocese of Juneau
+Roger L. Schwietz, O.M.I., Archbishop Emeritus of Anchorage
REJOICE AND BE GLAD! HOLINESS AND LIVING YOUR VOCATION
JULY 14TH 9-4PM AT ST RAPHAEL’S PARISH
Sister Dorothy Giloley, SSJ, and Fr. Al Smith, OSFS, will present a day retreat at St. Raphael’s parish
on July 14th from 9-4PM. Mass will be celebrated by Fr. Al at 4pm.
The retreat is entitled, “REJOICE AND BE GLAD!
HOLINESS AND LIVING YOUR VOCATION.”
Topics include: Discerning your Vocation, Praying the Examen,
Finding God in All Things, and Living a Devout Life.
Breakfast and Lunch are provided and a $10 suggested donation to cover food and material costs is much appreciated. To reserve your spot and a receive a free copy of St. Francis de Sales’ “Golden Counsels” booklet please RSVP by July 3rd to Patty Walter at 374-9536.