(5:11) – This video is a clear description of the three-part journey of Christian burial. It explains the importance of the Vigil, the Funeral Mass, and the Rite of Committal. The Vigil allows time for the living to tell stories about the deceased – essentially focusing on their life. The Funeral Mass focuses on the hope for the future – that our faith teaches that death has no victory – we have hope for eternal life. The Rite of Committal is the final goodbye for the loved ones and is a reminder of the importance of the reverent care of the deceased that our faith requires.
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
9 October 2020
Introduction to Voter’s Guide
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
With Election Day just a few weeks away, I invite you to join me in prayerfully reflecting on our civic responsibilities as Catholics. With a properly formed conscience and guidance from the Holy Spirit, we can conscientiously discharge our duties as citizens in November when we vote not just for a president and vice president, but for our representatives in Congress and local governments, too. To assist you in this discernment process, our diocese is providing parishes with The Issues, The Candidates, and Your Vote 2020, a resource to help you evaluate candidates according to Catholic teaching.
It should go without saying that we have a paramount responsibility as Catholics to support candidates who will protect and defend human life from conception to natural death. Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds it primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life.” During my six years as Bishop of Fairbanks, I have preached and written repeatedly on this issue, since so much of our society’s ills are rooted in a disregard for the innate dignity of every human being. We are sacred beings for the simple reason that God created us and ignoring this truth has led to some of the greatest moral crises of our times, as well as to great suffering for individuals and families.
As Catholics, then, we can never morally support or vote for candidates, laws, or initiatives that will maintain or increase access to abortion, euthanasia, or assisted suicide. Society proposes that we eliminate problems by eliminating people, but as Pope Francis affirmed in his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, “It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.”
What about candidates who support abortion rights but nonetheless also support life-affirming laws that help the poor or protect the environment? The Church is also clear on this issue: Catholics may not morally vote for a candidate who supports abortion just because they agree with the candidate on other, less important issues. Catholic social teaching, which includes our obligation to protect and increase the quality of life for others through the corporal works of mercy, is a serious issue that Jesus made clear we cannot ignore and expect to be welcomed into heaven. We should always strive to vote for candidates and laws that will help the most vulnerable among us obtain their basic needs, and that includes education and healthcare.
But protecting life itself must always take precedence when we are deciding who will best represent us. People of good will can disagree on how best to assist the poor or be good stewards of creation, because these are prudential issues and there can be more than one righteous solution. But some acts, such as taking human life through abortion, euthanasia, or assisted suicide, are always objectively wrong no matter the circumstances and we can never support them as Catholics.
Finally, I want to remind the faithful that we are not morally obligated to settle for the “lesser of two evils” when voting. Regrettably, the United States’ political system has, for practical purposes, evolved into a two-party system. This leaves many Catholics trying to support candidates who will best promote a true culture of life feeling as if there is no satisfying--or even licit--choice offered by either party. If your conscience leads you to that conclusion, then you have a moral right to cast your vote for a third-party candidate. To those who would accuse those individuals of “throwing away their vote” or blame them for “putting the worse candidate in office,” I must remind you that pragmatism is not our
highest value as Catholics--righteousness is:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
6 August 2020
Prayers for Physical, Spiritual and Social Healing
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
On 5 July 2020, at his General Audience, Pope Francis introduced a new catechesis series on healing the world that focuses on physical, spiritual and social healing. Pope Francis introduced this new series by drawing attention to Jesus’ miraculous healing of the paralytic at Capernaum.
“Jesus not only heals the paralytic but also forgives his sins and renews his and his friends’ lives as if they are reborn. It is a physical and spiritual healing, the fruit of personal and social contact,” the Pope says, “wondering how much Jesus’ encounter and His healing action must have helped this friendship and faith grow in that house.”
As Pope Francis focuses on physical, spiritual and social healing, I see a great hunger and thirst in our society as we continue to navigate the rough waters of COVID-19. Some of the parishes in the Diocese of Fairbanks have returned to public worship but clearly not all. I am aware of many villages that have implemented strict protocols to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. The number of daily COVID positive cases still remains quite high, and many communities are responding by implementing guidelines to assist in curbing the spread.
I have written a variety of Official Decrees regarding celebration of Mass, other sacraments and gatherings in our church buildings. Also, I lifted a General Dispensation but noting that those in high risk groups, or those living with individuals in high risk groups, are dispensed because of the potential exposure to COVID. It is impossible to address every possible pastoral situation that arises. So, I am asking the faithful to work directly with their parish priest, parish administrator or regional coordinator to discuss a dispensation from public attendance of Mass. Also, a friendly reminder that we still must “keep Holy the Sabbath” which can be facilitated through on-line Mass attendance, and other liturgical celebrations that various communities are facilitating while respecting local guidelines.
While attending Mass or a Communion Service in a church building, I strongly encourage you to wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot social distance between households.
After consulting with medical and scientific professionals, we are in this for the long haul. My concern echoes the words of Pope Francis regarding those persons in need of physical, spiritual and social healing. I urge you to reach out to those that are home bound, in the hospital or any situation of isolation. My father is in a care home and has had no visitors since the middle of March. It is truly affecting his spiritual, psychological and physical health. As missionary disciples, we grow in our care, concern and creativity to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need.
Be assured of my ongoing prayers for physical, spiritual and social healing in our society. Together let us turn to Jesus the Divine Physician.
Sincerely in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks
In response to the publication of a national news story on Catholic churches receiving loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, released the follow statement.
July 10, 2020
WASHINGTON – Following the publication of a national news story on Catholic churches receiving loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response:
“The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental supplier of social services in the United States. Each year, our parishes, schools and ministries serve millions of people in need, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion. The novel coronavirus only intensified the needs of the people we serve and the demand for our ministries. The loans we applied for enabled our essential ministries to continue to function in a time of national emergency.
“In addition, shutdown orders and economic fallout associated with the virus have affected everyone, including the thousands of Catholic ministries -- churches, schools, healthcare and social services -- that employ about 1 million people in the United States. These loans have been an essential lifeline to keep hundreds of thousands of employees on payroll, ensure families maintain their health insurance, and enable lay workers to continue serving their brothers and sisters during this crisis.
Read more: Statement from Bishop Chairman Comments on Paycheck Protection Program
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
P.N. BCZ 20/17
8 July 2020
Coronavirus Update #6: General Dispensation from Sunday obligation is no longer in effect
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
Every Tuesday, I am on a conference call with the Bishops of Region XII, Northwest Region of USA, and I am amazed at how many parishes in the more populated areas are limited to 25 people for Mass attendance. We are very blessed to have many of our churches open to celebrate the sacraments. However, not all churches in the Diocese of Fairbanks are open due to varying guidelines from community to community. We need to continue to work within these guidelines as we provide sacraments, and outreach ministry.
As the State of Alaska has moved fully into Phase IV of re-opening, COVID-19 has not left the state. The State of Alaska reported 165 cases for the 3-day period of July 2-4. With this increase, we still need to follow hygiene protocols when attending Mass. Many of the priests have commented that most individuals are expressing a care and concern regarding the potential transference of COVID-19. Please take seriously these continuing protocols.
Read more: Coronavirus Update #6
On 24 May 2020, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the encyclical Laudato si', Pope Francis announced a Special Laudato Si ' Anniversary Year which runs from 24 May this year until 24 May next year. The Holy Father invited "all people of good will to adhere to it, to take care of our common home and our more fragile brothers and sisters". We are pleased to bring to your kind attention the program drawn up by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development for the celebration of this special anniversary year. This program is available in various languages on the Dicastery's website and on the website dedicated to the Laudato Si ' Anniversary Year (www.laudatosiyear.org). It is an open-ended program that will be constantly updated. We also plan to consolidate our collaboration with various partners in order to realize this program.
La semana pasada tuve una entrevista de radio con Relevant Radio, y la primera pregunta que me hizó el entrevistador, fue la siguiente: “¿cómo fue para tí tener que tomar la decisión de cerrar los edificios de la Iglesia durante esta pandemia? Mi respuesta inmediata fue: “Fue orrible, lo hicé con gran angustia”. Recé, recé y recé, y mi decision vino con profunda tristeza y vacío". He predicado apasionadamente sobre la presencia real de Cristo en la Eucaristía, que es la “fuente y cumbre de nuestra fe”. Creo esto con todo mi corazón, mente y alma. Al ofrecer el sacrificio de la Santa Misa, creo que estoy sosteniendo al mismo Jesús que María sostuvo en sus brazos al nacer. Tener que cerrar las puertas de la casa de Dios, donde las personas son alimentadas con su Cuerpo y Sangre en su caminar, causó en mí un sentimiento horrible.
En la primera lectura de hoy del Deuteronomio, Moisés está hablando a la gente indicando que Dios dirigió su viaje en el desierto, "Él te dejó afligido por el hambre, y luego te alimentó con maná". Esta aflicción con el hambre es algo que muchos han compartido y que experimentaron en el período de “cuarentena" durante la pandemia. Esta aflicción causó una sed y un hambre mayor por el Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo con gran fervor.
Moisés recuerda a la gente que fueron conducidos y alimentados por la mano de Dios fuera de un lugar de esclavitud. Sin embargo, cuando las cosas no iban como ellos querían, comenzaron a quejarse con Moisés, lo que indicaba que estaban mejor en Egipto, allá sabían lo que recibirían a pesar de estar esclavizados. Esta es la naturaleza del pecado. Hay algo acerca de la condición humana, que fácilmente nos trasladamos a algo que nos es familiar a pesar de que no es saludable para nuestro cuerpo, mente y alma. Esto sucede con el comportamiento adictivo y abusivo. Es por eso que cada uno de nosotros lucha con el pecado habitual. Moisés le recuerda a la gente que es el Señor, tu Dios, quien te sacó de esta esclavitud. ¡Recuerdalo!
Además, lo que Moisés está haciendo es recordarles el Pacto que Dios hizó con el pueblo. Hoy, al celebrar la solemnidad del Cuerpo Sagrado y la Sangre de Jesús o “Corpus Christi,”reflexionemos sobre el movimiento litúrgico de la Iglesia. Cada año, la temporada de Pascua termina con la celebración del domingo de Pentecostés, seguido del domingo de la Santísima Trinidad y el domingo de “Corpus Christi”. Estas liturgias especiales se colocan intencionalmente en el calendario litúrgico, ya que reflejan nuestra teología católica.
Read more: Domingo del Corpus Christi - 14 de junio de 2020
Message from Sister Marian
To: Communities of Aniak, Kalskag, Holy Cross and Russian Mission
It is with a sad and heavy heart that I share with all of you that I will be leaving Aniak and the Y-K Region to return to the Philadelphia area, closer to our Congregational mother house and my family. I leave Aniak on June 29th for Bethel and to Anchorage and onward to Philly on the 30th.
Earlier this year, sisters in my community asked me to consider some ministerial positions within the Congregation itself. This coincided with the annual request from the Diocese for renewal of my contract. With prayerful reflection and discernment, especially on my Vow of Obedience and The Third Order Rule of St. Francis, I wanted to be generous in my response to my community. This situation and my decision to move came up very unexpectedly, as most of God’s plans and movements in my life seem to happen, so I am confident that God’s hand is guiding this transition.
I leave with a grateful heart, filled to overflowing, for the gift and privilege of calling Aniak my home since 2006 and the honor of serving our parish community, as well as the communities of Kalskag, Holy Cross, Russian Mission and Bethel (an in my early years, Pilot Station, Mountain Village and Kotlik!) I am humbled by God’s tremendous blessing to me for allowing me to ministry among the people of the Y-K region. I have learned much for the Native Alaskan people and I treasure the so many different ways you have shaped my growth and my heart over the years. As I walk the dike and beach during this time of year, I see the same Source of beauty of the mountains, hills and river reflected in all of you. The people and parishes of western Alaska have left their mark on me and they will always be held in prayer and deep in my heart.
So I will leave with part of my heart missing, so as to make room for all the people I will carry in there when I go. I am a better person because I came and stayed awhile and, in honor of all those who have been a part of my life here and all that has happened throughout the years, I will bring that ‘better self’ to whatever and wherever God chooses to plant my feet. I wish for you the realization of how much God loves, delights, cherishes and holds you, close to his heart and tucked within his arms! May God bless and keep you! May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you! May God look upon you with kindness and give you peace! Marian, your sister
The following sermon was delivered by Bishop Chad Zielinski on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on June 14, 2020.
During a recent interview with Relevant Radio, the host asked, “What was it like for you to close churches during the pandemic?” I told him the decision “came with a horrible angst.” I shared that before and after the decision, I prayed and prayed, that I was doing the right thing and that God would forgive me if I wasn’t. I prayed for God’s people, that they would understand I was making the decision out of love not just for them, but to protect the wider community, for whose welfare I am also responsible as a bishop. I prayed for the Lord to sustain the faithful, whom I knew yearned for him in the Eucharist. It was horrible to go through this and I experienced a profound sadness and emptiness during the shutdown.
The decision was so difficult because I believe with all my heart, mind, and soul that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. I know that in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I hold the same Jesus that Mary held in her arms at his birth. I believe all that--and then I had to shut the doors to God’s house where people are fed with his Body and Blood for the journey. It was an unimaginable anguish for me, as it was for every faithful priest across the world whose parish was temporarily shuttered.
Read more: Bishop Zielinski's Homily: He is our Certainty in Uncertain Times - Christ’s Real Presence in the...
Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
With a world struggling to stay together as a family of God because of the impact of COVID-19, we have witnessed the Evil One at work causing further division in God’s plan that “they all may be one.” It is horrifying and saddening to see the impact of racism, hatred, division and violence disrupting our nation. I urge the Church to turn to God, the Father of all, with increased fervor to bring to an end to this horrible hatred, division and violence. Also, please pray for our first responders who continue, with the utmost professionalism, to daily risk their lives as they respond to safeguard the common good for greater protection and respect of the human family. God truly desires that we all live in peace and safety united in His name as one family.
I ask that each parish add a special petition during the General Intercessions praying for an end to racism, hatred, division and violence. Praying that the Holy Spirit bring forth justice founded in peace and unity.
The following is an Opening Prayer for a Votive Mass #30 “For The Preservation of Peace and Justice.” Please feel free to use this in your bulletin and pray it at home.
“O God, who show a father’s care for all,
Grant, in your mercy,
That the members of the human race,
To whom you have given a single origin,
May form in peace a single family
And always be united by a fraternal spirit.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.”
John 17:20-21: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.“
Sincerely in the Peace of Christ,
Bishop Chad Zielinski