Six cloistered Catholic nuns, living nearly their entire lives praying behind the walls of an Alaska monastery, have embraced a new pro-life initiative. The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Anchorage recently completed an inaugural batch of tiny handcrafted baby booties for a local crisis pregnancy center. The center will give the miniature shoes to women facing unexpected pregnancies.
In Anchorage, prayer vigils take place in front of Planned Parenthood, where abortions are performed at 4001 East Lake Otis Parkway. In past years, the vigil was organized and coordinated through the national 40 Days for Life website. This spring campaign, however, was not officially organized but pro-life advocates are still gathering outside the abortion facility to pray.
Despite the dearth of light and heat many Alaskan Catholics see in winter a chance to volunteer more at their parish, pursue intellectual and spiritual works, host social gatherings and celebrate the many holy feast days that fall during this period. The rich liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas and Lent all fall within winter, as do many feast days for especially beloved saints. These are opportunities to light candles, prepare special meals at home and learn about the great saints and heroes of the faith.
Alaska’s lawmakers reconvened Jan. 19 in Juneau for the second session of the 2015-2016 legislative season where they face myriad bills of concern to Alaskan Catholics. Below is a summary of pending legislation the Catholic Anchor has identified that would affect the protection of human life, marriage, religious freedom and parents’ rights.
For me, how do I measure this man’s influence in my life? He ordained me. He assigned me to various parishes in the Anchorage Archdiocese. He came to help me in some moments of crisis, which all priests go through. And he eventually blessed “the call within the call” of my priesthood to come here to Far East Siberia and pray in the former Communist prison camps.
No one knew the late Anchorage Archbishop Emeritus Francis Hurley like the person who served as his secretary for 53 years. In White’s words, he was a dynamic priest “who got his work done with a flourish,” but it was also true that he was a visionary not always hung up on details. White kept a sharp eye on those details. In her gentle but firm voice, she dealt with every phone caller and every visitor. Friends describe her as the picture of discretion. “I learned so much from him about seeing good in people — about quiet, charitable giving,” White said. “He did so much of this: helping to pay families for children’s college tuition or mortgages during bad times, gas and electric payments that were overdue, food.”
Archbishop Hurley was personally vested in reaching those experiencing homelessness, single-parent families, families who experience disabilities, young adults and refugees. Many guests at Brother Francis Shelter or other of our services, met and spent time with Archbishop Hurley. They recount his kindness and humor. Archbishop Hurley gave the gift of his time to others and was very present — this was a great gift.
During his two-minute prayer he beseeched God to guide senators amid a world increasingly fraught by acts of terror.
“In these troubling times when misguided people use religion to commit the greatest crimes against humanity, by stabbing and murdering innocent men, women and children, in the Middle East, in Europe in Israel, in the US…may you grant, Almighty God that the members of this honorable body have the wisdom and the courage to embody the universal values of the seven commandments which you Almighty God issued to Noah and his family after the great flood, the foremost of which is not to commit murder.”
When something significant happens — something of historical note — we take notice. The death of Archbishop Francis Hurley, along with the prayers, rituals, funeral and finally his burial at the Cooper Landing cemetery of St. John Neumann Parish, was certainly one of those moments. It is the first time that the Archdiocese of Anchorage witnessed the death and bid farewell to its retired archbishop through the church’s rituals and liturgies.
The following is a list of liturgies and events which Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz is scheduled to participate in during the month of February.