The Catholic community at The University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), is served by St. Mark's University Parish. The parish is unique in that it does not have a church building of its own. Instead the congregation gathers for Sunday Masses in Muril Auditorium in the Margaret Murie "Life Science" Building on UAF's main campus.
Weekdays are different. For weekday masses and small group gatherings the parish community uses a small house owned by UAF. The house is tucked into a corner of the campus on Copper Lane, and has space for a small chapel, gathering place, an office and a kitchen.
The Copper Lane house is tied to the history of the University. In 1949 and 1950 UAF had six homes built on campus on Copper Lane. They were intended to house faculty for the new Geophysical Institute and served that purpose for a number of years.
However, the Diocese's Bishop formally established St. Mark University Parish in 1977, and the United Catholic Campus Ministry, including St. Mark's University Association and the Catholic Students Association, moved into the house at 517 Copper Lane.
Prior to 1977, Campus ministry had been covered by priests from Immaculate Conception Church and from Monroe Catholic High School who visited UAF to celebrate liturgy at various campus locales. A Jesuit priest also served as Newman Club Chaplain from 1958 to 1960. He celebrated Mass for students on the second floor of the Eielson Building on campus. Another Jesuit priest, served as Newman Club chaplain during the early 1960's and celebrated Mass in the homes or apartments of some of UAF's married students. These informal liturgies followed by family-like gatherings, became a Saint Mark's parish tradition.
When the parish was officially established in 1977 a Paulist priest became its first pastor and served St. Mark's for twenty years.
As of this writing, the little house on Copper Lane is home base to a vibrant faith family in a University setting. Besides Sunday Masses at nearby Schaible Auditorium, and customary pastoral services, St. Mark's hosts student gatherings for "fun, faith and fellowship," as well as student retreats, service projects and excursions into Alaska's outdoors.