The result: the little parish church, home to 25 families, was devastated. Flooring, crawlspace, wiring, the boiler -— everything was ruined. Fortunately, insurance covered the damage, and a repaired church emerged from the old. But two things were apparent. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the rivers’ flow had been permanently changed, and unless the church, which sat lower than the nearby road, was elevated, a similar or even worse flood wasn’t far in the offing.
About a year ago, I suggested to one of the top editors of a major American newspaper that his journal’s coverage of things papal left something to be desired, as it seemed based on the assumption that Pope Francis was some kind of radical wild-man, eager to toss into the garbage bin of history all those aspects of Catholic faith and practice that mainstream western culture finds distasteful. My friend replied, in so many words, look, you know how these media narratives are: they’re like bamboo. Once they get started, there’s no stopping them. They just keep growing.
New Year’s resolutions are a renewed focus on areas of our lives we want to improve. For some it is dieting or increased exercise. The stories at CSS have inspired me — and I ask you join me — to focus on a different kind of renewal. This year, let’s try to consciously give and connect with our community. It will not be easy.
Personally, I like the Catholic idea that the New Year starts with the new liturgical year, Advent, a time of waiting. And instead of making all kinds of soon-to-be-forgotten resolutions, we commit ourselves to the exercise of waiting — conscious, prayerful waiting.
At any event, Jesus, like many others, came to the Jordan River on that memorable day to receive the penitential washing offered by John. He came, like many of his fellow Jews, to heed once again the warnings of the ancient prophets and to be reminded that they and their nation stood in dire need of purification.
Alaska is among a handful of states in which local Catholic dioceses seem to have dramatically underreported the overall number of Catholics in the state. This comes from an article published by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
On an overcast December day, two women were in the process of making the hand-off of a very important job for the Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage. Susan Bomalaski, who had served as the executive director of Catholic Social Services for nearly nine years, was cleaning out her office on her final day. Meanwhile, Lisa Aquino, who took over the position on Dec. 1, was continuing to learn the nuts and bolts of one of Alaska’s premier social service agencies.
It’s no secret that stable, lifelong marriages are under intense pressure across much of the modern world. Viewed by many as a growing global crisis, the problem has long been on the Catholic Church’s radar and was a central concern during the recent Vatican Synod on the Family held late last year in Rome. But it is also seen as a pressing challenge in Alaska where volunteers for the local affiliate of the international Catholic Engaged Encounter ministry have labored for decades to ensure that couples go into marriage with eyes wide open.
Each year since 2010 the largest faith-based marriage enrichment program in the world has spearheaded a national campaign to find the longest married couples throughout the United States. Requests for nominations are broadcast over television, radio, newspapers and the internet. In Alaska, David and Aleen Fison of Anchorage took top honors for 2014, after 70 years of marriage. The national winners were Harold and Edna Owings of Burbank, Calif., married 82 years.
Here is a listing of recent news briefs as well as upcoming events and public liturgies scheduled across the Archdiocese of Anchorage.