Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishop Response to Dobbs vs Jackson Decision

We the Catholic Bishops of Alaska acknowledge the Dobbs vs Jackson decision released by the US Supreme Court today. We recognize that abortion remains legal here in our State and to that end, we will continue to work to uphold the life and dignity of the human person created in Gods image, from conception until natural death.

Scripture reminds us of a threefold message regarding life: We were each formed in our mother womb in the image and likeness of God and we are wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14) God has nplans for each of us to prosper and to give hope for the future. (Jeremiah 29:11) We were each created to do good works for which God has prepared us for. (Ephesians 2:10).

The Church will never cease to do what it has always done, to pray, work, and serve until the day nwhen every human life is protected in law, and welcomed in love. Until that day comes, in every way possible, we will continue to care for women and children in need, so that every family has the support to joyfully choose life.

We encourage you to read the statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Andrew E. Bellisario, C.M.
Archbishop of Anchorage-Juneau

Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Bishop of Fairbanks

Most Reverend Roger L. Schwietz, O.M.I.
Archbishop Emeritus of Anchorage


File: files/20220624-ACCB_Response_to_DOBBS_ruling.pdf

Diocese of Fairbanks For a Synodal Church Synthesis

Diocese of Fairbanks for a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission Synod Report

The Diocese of Fairbanks, on the behalf of the faithful who reside within it, humbly submits this report chronicling the synodal process and its findings regarding the 2021-2023 synod, For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission. As all things should, the process began with a spiritual dimension relying heavily on the Holy Spirit to guide all involved and produce great fruits regarding the way in which the Spirit wants to hear from the faithful. The process in the diocese was unique because it needed to cover a rural population spreading across the 409,849 square miles of the diocese.

The diocese may be spread throughout the state of Alaska and present in small conglomerates of native communities, but that did not stop the Holy Spirit from driving participation from as many people as it could reach. The facilitation of participation in the synod process throughout the diocese was rooted in the local parishes. Each parish was equipped with a synod packet. The pages on the packet included instructions on how to conduct the synod process in the parish setting. Each listening session was to begin with prayer, the prayer recommended by the synod, as well as scriptural readings related to the themes of communion, participation, and mission. It then laid out a series of questions to help digest the larger question at hand. Parishes conducted listening sessions among the parishioners, special committees, and small groups within their community. On top of those listening sessions, the diocese also set up a means for individuals to respond to the synod if they were not comfortable attending a session amid the pandemic, or if they did not have an arranged session at their parish. Individuals had access to the same packet as parishes giving them access to the same prayers, scripture readings, and reflections. This way the diocese could maximize the synod process reach to even those on the periphery as the Holy Father has asked.

The initial response from parishes was a mix of excitement but also confusion. They did not grasp the need for a synod nor understand how their voice would play a part in the process. This was especially the case within our native parishes. Parishioners expressed concerns about participation as they are used to the elders deliberating and making decisions. They were uncertain if it was right to participate or if their participation would matter. The initial start was a bit difficult, but once parishes started to conduct listening sessions and reiterate that participation is driven by the Holy Spirit, numbers began to rise in the participants. The core piece of this process within our diocese was reminding and rereminding that we must surrender to the Holy Spirit and trust that He will guide the Church to produce what the Church needs most according to His will.

Read more: Diocese of Fairbanks For a Synodal Church Synthesis

Eucharistic Revival

15 June 2022

Eucharistic Revival

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Sunday, June 19th, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi in which we honor the true presence of Christ within the sacrament of the Eucharist. The feast of Corpus Christi originated in Belgium when St. Juliana of Mont Carvillon, in her devotion to the Eucharist, petitioned the Bishop of Liege to institute a celebration in their diocese dedicated to the Eucharist. After the institution of this local feast, Eucharistic miracles began to appear throughout the Church. These miracles caught the attention of Saint Thomas Aquinas who petitioned Pope Urban IV to extend the feast to the universal Church instituting what we now celebrate as Corpus Christi, a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist being the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

This year’s feast of Corpus Christi marks an especially important beginning in our diocese, and the rest of the dioceses in the United States, as we begin a Eucharistic Revival. Why now? Why a Eucharistic revival? Because the Church needs healing. And the world needs the Church. The Church has withstood scandal, division, disease, and doubt throughout history. Today, we are encountering them all at once. Our response in this moment is pivotal. In the midst of these roaring waves, Jesus is present in the boat (the Church), reminding us that He is more powerful than the storm. He desires to heal, renew, and unify the Church and the world. How will He do it? By uniting us once again around the source and summit of our faith—the Holy Eucharist. The National Eucharistic Revival is the joyful, expectant, grassroots response of the entire Catholic Church in the United States to this divine invitation.

Throughout the course of the next three years, our diocese will be rolling out events, programs, and various opportunities for the faithful to encounter Jesus Christ through the source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist, and be transformed. These encounters with Jesus Christ are rooted in three parts. The first part is Hearing God. We must take time in this revival to “listen with the ears of our heart,” as Saint Benedict says. Our world is full of noise and distractions blocking both our hearts and minds. During this time of revival, I encourage you to root out those distractions and focus on the guiding voice of our Lord. His voice is said to be found not in the fire and the earthquake, but in the stillness and gentleness of silence. This sacred silence can be found in adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, in scripture meditation, and in prayerful contemplation, all things available throughout the Eucharistic Revival and beyond.

Read more: Eucharistic Revival

Diocese of Fairbanks seeking Full-Time Maintenance Person

The Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks is seeking to hire a full-time, staff maintenance person to perform general building maintenance at its Peger Road campus which includes the following buildings: the Chancery Offices, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Ignatius Residence, Frasatti House, Immaculate Conception Church, Convent House, a warehouse as well as an aircraft hangar. Qualifications: Prefer at least 5 years’ experience in commercial building maintenance. Experience in mechanical system including hydronic heating system, plumbing, electrical systems including lighting, carpentry and painting is highly desirable. Able to operate and maintain equipment for use in grounds keeping. This is a full-time, non-exempt position with benefits. Background check required and able to pass a drug test. Interested individuals should submit a resume to Full job description available upon request. We look forward to hearing from you!

Priests and Religious Serving in the Diocese of Fairbanks


7 April 2022

Priests and Religious Serving in the Diocese of Fairbanks

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

A few months after I was ordained a bishop, I visited friends in Kauai. There was a mission church, and they asked me to celebrate weekend Masses. I saw a diversity of cultures: Filipino, Hawaiian, Polynesian, Japanese, and others creating a richness of experiences in worshipping God. At the end of Mass, everybody knelt and prayed for vocations. They prayed with intensity, believing God would answer their prayers.

When I returned to Fairbanks, I asked the faithful to begin praying our Diocesan Prayer for Vocations. Seven years later, we have been abundantly blessed with priests and religious from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, and the Lower 48. The arctic adjustment has been challenging for some, but they all serve with a sincere love for Christ and His Church. We now have our own cultural richness as one family of faith.

Prior to serving here, priests and religious are thoroughly vetted through bishop-to-bishop (or superior) contact or by personal reference of someone known to our diocese. They are asked to visit Alaska in winter to experience the cold and darkness. Once they arrive for service, priests/religious remain in Fairbanks for six to 12 months to acclimate to our climate and culture. They may take English courses and attend talks by experienced missionaries on faith and inculturation. We work together to foster wise and informed pastoral care for all cultures, and I remind them our faith is unifying beyond culture and we are all citizens of the City of God.

One of the most important responsibilities of anyone who serves in our diocese is to be dedicated to ongoing healing and rebuilding trust. Our diocese is gifted yet wounded. Nearly 75% of our parishes (37 of 46) are located in remote villages predominantly comprised of Alaska Native peoples. In the late 1800s, missionaries came to evangelize Alaska, and memoirs and photos capture these missionaries’ heroic efforts. I spend considerable time among Native people and have heard firsthand the impact of our earlier missionaries. Some have shared their positive experiences of being educated and led by sisters, brothers, and priests. Others, however, were traumatized by ethnic, sexual, physical, or psychological abuse by priests and religious. Even today, many of our current priests have suffered tragedy, too. In their home countries, they have witnessed the destruction of churches, sexual assaults, and the murders of priests. I trust that as a family, we can come together to support one another in healing through Christ, the Divine Physician.

I cannot change the past, but I can establish proper oversight to prevent future abuses. As one safeguard, I have expanded our responsibility to provide a safe environment (SE) for all, but especially for minors and vulnerable adults. Every priest and religious who serves must have a letter of good standing from his or her diocese or religious community that affirms the person is free from any indiscretions. If even one act of abuse is confirmed, the priest or deacon is to be removed permanently from ministry, and if warranted, from the clerical state. New religious must complete a background check and learn the most current practices in child and vulnerable adult protections in our SE training, which must be renewed annually. In addition, at quarterly clergy formation days and regional meetings, everyone participates in healthy human formation and further SE training.

I also have expert counsel from our Diocesan Review Board (DRB), which is comprised of local men and women of various backgrounds, including tribal, law enforcement, and counseling. These individuals review allegations and recommend actions. They also guide policies, education, outreach, and participate in a yearly audit of the SE Program. Though the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Dallas Charter only requires these boards to meet annually, I require ours to meet quarterly. I have also appointed Teresa Pitt Green to the DRB as advisor. Teresa is a clergy abuse survivor and co-founder of Spirit Fire, a nonprofit that provides hope and
healing to abuse survivors and family members. She has partnered with the USCCB, dioceses, and religious communities to foster understanding of survivors’ needs and has provided significant insight to our ministry.

No stone has been left unturned in breaking the silence around historical wrongs in our diocese. With the DRB’s concurrence, the diocese hired Kinsale Management, a renowned investigatory organization specializing in third-party Church record audits. They scoured our records for names or stories left unseen, and this prompted us to add more names to the list of credibly accused on the diocesan website.

Today, the vast majority of the priests and religious that serve here do so through a personal connection with the bishop or superior. Like my predecessor, Bishop Kettler, I have come to know many bishops and religious superiors personally. Through priests in my home diocese, I came to know Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, Nigeria, and Bishop Paul Horan of Mutare, Zimbabwe. Father Stan Jaszek also has been helpful in facilitating trips to dioceses in Poland where I have developed relationships with more bishops there.

I also have come to know Msgr. Stephen Rossetti during my years as a military chaplain. Msgr. Rossetti is a clinical psychologist who served as the Director of St. Luke’s Institute for 18 years. He currently serves at Catholic University of America and was appointed by Pope Francis as a consultant working with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors because of his expertise in clergy abuse and victim care. Msgr. Rossetti recommended the Incarnate Word Fathers and Sisters, who serve in some most challenging missions worldwide. I developed a relationship with the IVE Fathers (Instituto Verbo Encarnato) and the Sisters of the Servant of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara (SSVM); they are separate institutes but share the same charism through their work and are often referred to as the Incarnate Word Family. I visited their major formation centers in Italy and was impressed by their joy-filled faith, hard work, simplicity of life, and willingness to serve the most challenging parts of the globe. In the past two years, these communities’ leaders have visited Fairbanks and been kindly received by parishioners. As a result, one IVE priest arrived last summer and another will arrive in August. Three SSVM sisters will arrive mid-May. They will initially focus on Fairbanks with periodic visits to villages. I invite you to the 11:00 AM Mass on May 15th at Sacred Heart Cathedral to welcome them.

I also want to welcome Fr. Bill Wheaton, who will arrive in August to serve our diocese. Father Wheaton and I attended Mt. Angel Seminary together and he retires from the Diocese of Salt Lake City early this summer.

The Diocese of Fairbanks has not celebrated an ordination of a priest since 2011. Through God’s grace and the “yes” of Fr. Piotr Oprych and Fr. Dominik Wojcik, and your “yes” to support them, these men were ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ in January. It is beautiful that we have two more incardinated priests!

The beautiful Catholics on the island of Kauai sparked in me a desire to increase our prayers for vocations that have born great fruit. We are thankful to Our Lady of the Arctic Snows and her Son, Jesus Christ, for calling men and women to serve as priests and religious in northern Alaska. We currently have 22 priests, two brothers, and one sister, with one more priest and three sisters to come by the end of 2022.

On March 29, we celebrated the Chrism Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. All priests renewed the promises they made at ordination. At one point, the bishop turns to the faithful and asks for prayer. I share this prayer request with you: “And pray also for me, that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness and that in your midst I may be made day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ, the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and the Servant of all.”

Sincerely in Christ,

†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks

National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day 2022




Each year, National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day provide an opportunity for the Catholic Church to focus on and celebrate the vocation to marriage and family life. This year, National Marriage Week USA will be celebrated February 7-14 and World Marriage Day, which is commemorated on the second Sunday of February, will be celebrated on Sunday, February 13.

The theme for this year’s celebration of National Marriage Week is “Called to the Joy of Love,” which hearkens to the new National Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry that was approved by the U.S. bishops in June 2021, and was chosen to highlight the many ways that married couples and families are accompanied by the Church to live out the call of love.

List of resources: