Archbishop Etienne asks for help in discerning mission of Anchorage Archdiocese

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Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne is asking Alaskans to consider attending one of several upcoming listening sessions scheduled around the archdiocese over the next few months.

The goal of the parish-based events is to foster a “a formal process of discerning and defining our mission as the local church of the Archdiocese of Anchorage,” Archbishop Etienne wrote Feb. 22 on his blog. “First and foremost, I invite all of you to please pray during this time that we may be sensitive and alert to where the Holy Spirit is leading us, and that we may humbly follow and boldly accomplish what God is asking of us.”

Archbishop Etienne said he aims to complete the first round of listening sessions by June and then follow with “a more focused round of sessions to resume in the fall.”

A new flyer promoting the listening sessions, notes that the archbishop is interested in hearing from “as many people as possible.”

According to the flyer, the sessions follow a basic format, beginning with a brief reflection by Archbishop Etienne on his observations. “Specifically, the archbishop will explain the five principles which are at the core of the church’s mission, as outlined by Pope Francis: Encounter, accompany, dialogue, discern, integrate.”

The listening sessions are intended to give an opportunity for people to “share their thoughts/ hopes/ dreams with the archbishop and others who are gathered,” the flyer explains. The sessions are not “a time to express complaints or concerns” or “to ask the archbishop questions (he is coming to listen).”

The flyer includes questions to help guide the listening sessions. These include asking about how the faith is lived at the parish level and what could be done better. Other questions inquire as to how well parishes offer opportunities for people to grow in their relationship with Christ, how well parishes welcome people and accompany them on their spiritual journeys, “no matter where they may be in that walk,” whether parishes do a good job of “empowering people to use their gifts for building up God’s Kingdom.”

The flyer also notes that the archbishop wants to know where people think the Holy Spirit is “leading us — calling us to be as Church today.”

While he will not visit every parish, Archbishop Etienne aims to make stops in each region of the archdiocese so that Catholics in the surrounding areas can attend the sessions.

UPCOMING LISTENING SESSIONS

Feb. 26, 7 p.m., St. Andrew Church, Eagle River

March 17, 7 p.m., St. John the Baptist Church, Homer

March 20, 7 p.m., St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Anchorage

March 22, 7 p.m., St. Patrick Church, Anchorage

April 7, 7 p.m., St. Joseph Church, Cordova

April 18, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Guadalupe, Anchorage

April 27, 7 p.m., St. Christopher, Dutch Harbor

May 6, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Soldotna

May 24, 7 p.m., St. Mary, Kodiak


'Archbishop Etienne asks for help in discerning mission of Anchorage Archdiocese'
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