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May 1, 2017
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ is risen. Hallelujah! I pray you are celebrating Eastertime, during these longer and warmer days, in every beam of sunlight and in every humble patch of green beneath your feet. We know just how fleeting are these moments in the sun! I feel increasingly hopeful and a little anxious as I anticipate the warmer months, the shortness of our summer, and all the urgent work to undertake in our parishes while we "have the light!"
The Church celebrates 50 days of Easter, lasting from April 16th through to Pentecost, on June 4th. Our faith flows from this our greatest liturgical feast, the Resurrection: "If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith." (1 Cor 15:14)
In Alaska, the Resurrection has special meaning to us. We spend most of our year in literal darkness and then we awaken at breakup. As the ice melts in our rivers and the snow fades from our rooftops, we start to think thoughts of summer gardening, fish camp, berry picking, canning, vacationing, and shaking the dust from our homes. Our houses, sealed tight against the winter for so long, are now open and brighter. This year, for the annual appeal, I would like to ask that as you awaken to the warmth of our season of light, you might also prayerfully consider making a gift to our annual appeal.
Some Give By Going To The Missions.
Some Go By Giving To The Missions.
Without Both, There Are No Missions.
You have seen these words in our publications, for over 50 years; how true they still ring today. Without the giving and the going, we would simply not succeed. We would be defeated. As long as we have people who long to hear the Word and receive the Holy Eucharist, we must "GO!" I will gladly send my priests. They will joyfully go. Will you help support us? Will you go by giving?
The annual appeal goal this year is $100,000. I hope that by striving to attain this goal together we can share equally in helping to carry the burden and move toward alleviating some of the expenses that are so essential in carrying out our ministry.
When I consider our core mission—that is providing the Mass and Sacraments to the people of northern Alaska—we can only do this by sending out our 15 priests, religious and deacons, to all of you, wherever you reside and whenever we have the financial means to do so. They will visit the sick, perform baptisms and weddings, assist lay ministers with catechesis, and our priests will celebrate the Mass. After a few short weeks, each will move on to the next mission church, rarely pausing to "hang his hat." The life of a missionary priest in Alaska is a challenging one, as are the lives of our sisters, brothers, deacons, and lay administrators. It is thanks to your support that we can continue to “keep them on the trail” and to pay the price to transport them as often as we are financially able.
You may have heard that we will soon be blessed with five more priests and we currently have three Seminarians. Still, with 46 parishes and nearly 15,000 people to serve over an area spanning 410,000 square miles, you can readily see the great challenge. We have a priest for every three parishes. Thirty-seven of our parishes are located in areas without road access. It is imperative that I am able to send our priests out to celebrate the Mass and the Sacraments to our people, some of whom have been without a priest for many weeks. Isn’t that heartbreaking? 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.
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 already understand our needs. Still, I know, this appeal will find some of you facing your own struggles and fiscal uncertainty. I hope that once again, if you are able, 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.
Your gifts and prayers aid the work of our priests, sisters, brothers, deacons, and lay people, toiling to bring Christ to their parishes. Your generosity fuels our plane, helps purchase airfare, and brings ministers in for training and celebrations. Your gift is essential to our Mission. I am grateful beyond words.
As Shepherd of the Diocese of Fairbanks, I wish to share with you this snapshot (below) of our financial statement; 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