Late Anchorage Archbishop Emeritus Francis Hurley was renown for his ability to connect with Alaskans of all stripes. From the elevated wielders of political power to the down and out on the streets of Anchorage, Archbishop Hurley walked easily, and generously, into the lives of his fellow Alaskans. The following tributes are just a few of the many memories Alaskans have shared following Archbishop Hurley’s death on Jan. 10.
A few weeks after his installation, the archbishop called and we met at Merrill Field for the first flight. I was pleasantly surprised to find him such a normal, down-to-earth person who had a natural ability for flying. We hit it off immediately. Me being born in Ireland, like the archbishop’s mother, helped.
Archbishop Hurley had a gift for involving others in the things that he was passionate about, to engender in others that same zeal and to see, that in common purpose, each of us have possibilities we never knew we possessed. It is rare to have a friend or a leader who can engender in others such confidence and purpose.
Father Pacholczyk regularly travels the country helping untangle the difficult choices that arise in the rapidly changing world of medical science. He speaks at Catholic hospitals, universities, diocesan events and myriad other functions. As he travels, he tackles tough questions on how one can make medical decisions that are in harmony with Catholic teaching about the dignity of human life.
Established on Feb. 9, 1966, by Pope Paul VI, the Anchorage Archdiocese turns 50 years old next month. To mark the historic day a special Mass will be celebrated on Feb. 9 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage. The liturgy begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception following. The event is part of the ongoing “Season of Blessings” in which the archdiocese is celebrating key milestones of the Catholic faith in Southcentral Alaska.
Three years before his death on Jan. 10, Archbishop Hurley granted an extended interview with the Catholic Anchor covering his life and ministry across many decades. A previously unpublished portion of that Oct. 24, 2012 conversation touched on the archbishop’s untiring commitment to social justice.
Jay Hurley said Archbishop Hurley personified the dream of Alaskan poet Robert Service who wrote, “Send us men to match our mountains.” He was, as Jay Hurley said, “supremely balanced, open and receptive to individuals. He made the church real and alive…he brought vision to his ministry…constantly doing what the Holy Spirit prompted him to do.”
Shocking some while bringing a knowing smile to others, late Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley was laid to rest in a remote Catholic cemetery, two hours drive south of Anchorage. After four days of public prayers and a televised funeral Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral, Archbishop Hurley’s funeral arrangements came to a quiet end on Jan. 23. The humble gravesite for the iconic Alaskan churchman was chosen himself, according to his long-time personal secretary Joann White.
Editor’s note: On April 30, 1999, late Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley launched the Catholic Anchor with the expressed mission: “To provide a forum for Catholics to understand and to assume their roles in the church in the modern world.” Archbishop Hurley died on Jan. 10. The column below was written by him for the inaugural issue, nearly 17 years ago.
The Anchorage Archdiocese released the official program for the Jan. 21 prayers and vigil service for Anchorage Archbishop Emeritus Francis Hurley, who died Jan. 10.