Bishop Chad Zielinski's 2018 Easter Message

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
 
Peace Be with You. And with Your Spirit!
 
During my years as an Air Force chaplain, I was honored to serve with a chaplain who is an orthodox Jew. Some people no doubt found it odd to see a priest and rabbi carry on so well, but despite our theological differences, we had a deep mutual respect for each other.
 
One day, the rabbi and I were chatting about Hebrew expressions in Sacred Scripture and the word “shalom” came up. Historically and even today, a Jewish person will greet another Jew with “Shalom!” and the recipient will respond, “And peace unto you!” (Notice the echo of this ancient greeting in the Mass.) The rabbi explained that when he says, “Shalom,” he more fully means, “May the peace that is within me leap out of me and be present in you.” The other person then accepts that gift of peace and confirms that he, too, desires that they live in peace together.

Read more: Bishop Chad Zielinski's 2018 Easter Message

Responding to Love

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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.

 

 

Pastoral Letter: Living in the Image and Likeness of God

     OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Pastoral-Letter-Living in the Image and Likeness of God     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

 

PDF: Living in the Image and Likeness of God: Human Dignity and Divine Designs

Flipbook: Living in the Image and Likeness of God: Human Dignity and Divine Designs

Pastoral Letter: Living in the Image and Likeness of God (Spanish)

     OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Pastoral-Letter Living in the Image and Likeness of God Spanish     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

 

PDF: Living in the Image and Likeness of God: Human Dignity and Divine Designs

Flipbook: Living in the Image and Likeness of God: Human Dignity and Divine Designs

Message from Bishop Zielinski: Love Saves Lives

Whenever we take a stand for life, we should recognize that we are ultimately taking a stand for relationships. We are standing in solidarity not only with unborn children, but with their frightened mothers and fathers...with the poor, the addict, the elderly, the immigrant, those tormented by mental illness--indeed, we stand with all who struggle and suffer. For God also wants us to be in relationship not just with friends and family, but with these most vulnerable among us, too.

 

Read more: Message from Bishop Zielinski: Love Saves Lives

Founding of the Church in Alaska through the Eyes of Bro. Carmelo Giordano, S.J.

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Born in Sant’ Anastasia near Naples, Italy in 1860, Carmelo Giordano entered the Society of Jesus to become a lay brother in 1884. He volunteered in 1886 to serve at the missions in America. With the death of Archbishop Seghers in 1886, the Jesuit Superior of the Rocky Mountain territory, Fr. Joseph Cataldo, S.J.,  found himself responsible for the whole territory of Alaska. Fr. Cataldo, S.J., hurriedly assigned Bro. Giordano, S.J., and Fr. Aloysius Ragaru, S.J., to join Fr. Pasquale Tosi, S.J., and Fr. Aloysius Robaut, S.J. to the task of establishing mission churches in Alaska.  For the next 25 years, Bro. Carmelo Giordano, S.J., would be a key missionary. As a hunter, logger, cook, and builder, he helped establish the first missions. He was noted for learning the Koyukon-Athabaskan language, so well that he prayed his Catholic prayers in the Athabaskan language for the rest of his life. In his unpublished manuscript Memoirs of An Alaskan Missionary, we learn the hardships and rewards experienced by those early missionaries in the making of the Church we see today.

Nothing about founding the missions in Alaska was ideal. According to Bro. Giordano, in the rush to go to Alaska, Fr. Ragaru and he had little preparation when they joined Fr. Tosi. Bro. Giordano recalls the difficulties, “You must remember that when we left Victoria, we had no trunks, no satchels, nothing except what we had on our backs. So when my pants were torn at the knees or some other place, I was obliged to cut a piece from the bottom to patch it, and so I became a young boy again in short pants.” Ideally a grand assignment would be well funded but that was not the case here. Bro. Giordano explains, “Fr. Van Gorpu, who was a friend of Fr. Tosi. Since Fr. Tosi had not a cent, Fr. Van Gorpu gave him $80.00 in gold. Fr. Ragaru got $20.00, Fr. Robaut got $20.00, and Fr. Tosi kept $40.00 for himself. This was all the money we had in starting the Alaska Mission.”

Read more: Founding of the Church in Alaska through the Eyes of Bro. Carmelo Giordano, S.J.

Clergy Days - Rev. Michael Oleksa: Cross-Cultural Communication

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During the November Clergy Days Russian Orthodox priest Rev. Michael Oleksa gave a workshop on cross-cultural communication. Local priests and staff attended the three-day workshop. Rev. Oleksa discussed the issues involved with communicating between cultures by sharing his own personal experiences. He explained that as a teacher when he talked about animals he thought of wolves from his Polish ancestry that eat little grandmas but his native Alaskan students thought of animals as spiritual creatures that chose to give their lives to hunters for feeding and clothing the native people. His use of the word animals was heard by his students differently the way he intended.

When the early missionaries arrived, telling stories of Jesus, a man who gave his life for the benefit of humanity, native cultures were able to relate to the stories of self-sacrifice, something the animals do for the native community.

Fr. Oleksa discussed that when we communicate between cultures we need to be aware that when we say something it may communicate something completely different to another culture. He also explained with cross-cultural communication that we may be communicating the same thing, but not realizing we are just using different words. By being aware of this we can avoid some of the frustration of why others misunderstand what we are saying.

Welcome to Our New Priests

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Every three months, clergy in the Fairbanks area gather for support and professional development. At the closing Mass for Clergy Days, Vicar General, Fr. Ross Tozzi expressed gratitude from the diocese for our missionary priests who serve here. In his homily Fr. Ross said, “Fruit is born throughout the world and we see that in our own Fairbanks presbyterate. In the early days of the Church in Alaska, the fruit came from Spain, France, Germany, and Italy. In the 3rd millennium, fruit is born from the countries of Poland, India, Nigeria, and the lower 48. We are grateful to bishops from around the world who have sent priests to continue the flowing water of baptism in our Diocese. As a Cathedral parish we give special thanks to Frs. Kumar, Thomas, Bala, Stan, Syzmon, Alphonsus, Aiden, and Kaspar.”

After the celebration Mass for the closing of Clergy Days, a multi-parish potluck was held to welcome the new missionary priests.