April 22, 2016
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am confident that when I reach out to you, the people of the Diocese of Fairbanks, I am appealing to true friends, to people who understand our needs. Still, I know, this appeal finds us all in disturbing times, times troubled by political turmoil and fiscal uncertainty. However, I ask your patience as I explain why I need your support. I hope that once again, you will help us along this year with your prayers and financial assistance. It is with great sincerity that I would like to thank those of you who are already offering a helping hand through your loyal gifts made through the Alaskan Shepherd newsletter.
What does it take to run a diocese that is nearly 410,000 square miles large? A good deal of prayer is required, as well as wonderful missionaries, lay people, and the support of people all over the United States and especially here in our own backyard. It is only upon becoming bishop of the last World Mission Diocese in the United States, that I truly understand the vastness of this region. My trips out to the “bush” have shown me an Alaska that you must see to believe. The Eskimo and Indian people of the northern and western coasts and the interior rivers are spiritually rich but sacramentally, underserved. The choices that we are allotted here in Fairbanks, in North Pole, and within our road parishes, to attend one or more Masses on Sunday and to receive the sacraments regularly, is a blessing that the people in our mission parishes do not have. The freedom to pick a wedding date, a baptismal date, and to go to confession, are all great luxuries that are not readily available, they are entirely dependent on the availability of a priest; and it can sometimes take up to eight weeks before one of our road parish priests can travel out to rural Alaska.
Running a diocese requires many hands guided by Christ’s heart. We must build and repair our churches, upgrade our catechetical programs, train our teachers, and form our lay ministers to serve in the absence of a priest. That profound loss, draws our priests out each week, to fly hundreds of miles so that those communities can experience the miracle of the Holy Eucharist.
All of this draws on our resources, spiritually, emotionally, and economically. This is why I turn to you. I must pay for nails, siding and shingles to maintain our buildings; I must pay the fuel bills for dozens of parishes who could not otherwise heat their churches. I must pay for airline tickets so our priests, brothers, and sisters, can bring the Good News to our people and guide them spiritually.
Your gifts and prayers aid my work. Your generosity repairs our churches, heats our buildings, trains and shepherds our people. You are essential to our Mission. I am grateful beyond words.
As Shepherd of the Diocese of Fairbanks, I wish to share with you (below) a snapshot of our annual report; a breakout of money raised and where it is spent. Please know that your prayerful contributions are just as important to us as your financial support.
I wish you a most blessed year and my most sincere gratitude for your support.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks
Did you know?
Liturgy of the word with Holy Communion (LWHC) services are celebrated on Sundays when a priest is not in the village. At this time, on any given Sunday there are at least 18 of the 24 parishes in the Y-K Delta region that celebrate LWHC. In parishes where there are deacons, the deacon leads the service. In parishes that do not have deacons, lay women and men lead the services.
Parishes that have assigned priests (only 14) see a priest about every three to eight weeks (these parishes have Sunday and daily Mass while the priest is there. His visit could be a few days or up to two weeks.) Parishes that have priests coming from Fairbanks celebrate Eucharistic about once every three months. The priest coming from Fairbanks may be in a village only three to four days.
Serving the Parish Communities of:
Alakanuk - Aniak - Barrow
Bethel - Chefornak - Chevak
Delta Junction - Emmonak - Fairbanks
Galena - Healy (also Denali Park) - Holy Cross
Hooper Bay - Huslia - Kalskag
Kaltag - Kotlik - Kotzebue
Koyukuk - Little Diomede Island - Marshall
McGrath - Mountain Village - Nenana
Newtok - Nightmute - Nome
North Pole - Nulato - Nunam Iqua
Pilot Station - Ruby - Russian Mission
Saint Marys - Saint Michael - Scammon Bay
Stebbins - Tanana - Teller
Tok - Toksook Bay - Tununak - Unalakleet