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
The Diocese of Fairbanks would like to announce the formation of a group of men to prayerfully consider a call to the permanent diaconate along the road system. Becoming a deacon involves a vocation from God; it is not simply another volunteer job or ministry. A person becomes a deacon not just out of personal desire or interest, but for the common good of the Church as determined by the bishop. The deacon is first and foremost a servant. He is an ordained servant to the Church, the People of God and to the community. His service provides the bishop and his priests greater latitude in their own ministries. It is for these reasons that the selection, discernment, and formation of deacon candidates are rigorous efforts. The entire formation process in fact, is a journey of discernment. Through systematic opportunities for prayer, spiritual direction, formal course work, and pastoral-skills development, the candidate is able to reflect critically on his life and the various ministries to which he might be assigned. This process of discernment continues to the very moment of ordination. On Saturday, February 11th at 9:00 am, men interested in beginning their discernment will meet at the chancery office on the Cathedral property. Men must be at least 32 years old, full-initiated Catholics in good-standing and have a note of endorsement from his pastor in order to attend. This first meeting will outline the steps of pre-discernment, discernment/formation, and the commitment required to start the process. If you have questions, please contact Fr. Robert Fath at 907-374-9511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the second anniversary of my installation as your bishop approached I was also preparing my homily for the third Sunday of Advent. The Gospel reading was eerily appropriate. It has to do with vocation, ministry and identity:
“…Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people. Lk 3:15-18
John the Baptist is the forerunner of Christ. From the people’s perspective, there was doubt, “Is he the Messiah?” But John carries absolute certainty about who he is and what is his ministry. We hear this in his statement: "He must increase and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30) John’s message and actions are singularly focused to promote the greatness of Christ. They prepare a way for the Messiah. They are also the words I chose for my motto when I became a bishop.
I too am very clear that whatever merit I may have achieved in the last 24 months as your servant, it does not come from me. I know all too well my weaknesses and challenges. But I know, the Holy Spirit called me to serve you and it is the Lord’s doing if I’ve succeeded in some measure.
Simbang Gabi, is a Filipino Christmas tradition consisting of nine dawn Masses beginning on December 16, and ending on December 24 with Midnight Mass. This tradition was originally introduced in preparation for Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, by the Spanish friars to allow all the farmers to hear Mass before going to the fields. Today, the tradition of Simbang Gabi continues but is celebrated in new ways, sometimes changing to evening Mass times in order to accommodate different work schedules.
This year, we will honor this tradition by inviting the Filipino community and all Catholics to celebrate Simbang Gabi at Sacred Heart Cathedral at the following Mass times on the days listed below. A Potluck supper will take place in the Social Hall following these Masses.
Day - Date Mas - Time Friday - 12/16/2016 - 5:30pm Monday - 12/19/2016 - 5:30pm Tuesday - 12/20/2016 - 5:30pm - No Potluck Wednesday - 12/21/2016 - Canceled Thursday - 12/22/2016 - 5:30pm Friday - 12/23/2016 - 5:30pm