One of the most prominent and long-serving priests of the Anchorage Archdiocese, Father Steven Moore died on Dec. 22, after battling for more than a year with cancer. He was 68.
In August 2016 Father Moore was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which he fought through medical treatment. In June of 2017 he retired as pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Anchorage but continued in ministry as his health allowed.
Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne was at Father Moore’s bedside during his last days, both in the hospital and after Father Moore decided to return to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton rectory with his brother, sister and close friends after learning that his system was shutting down.
“I had a number of visits with him over the past few days,” Archbishop Etienne stated following Father Moore’s death. “His intellect and humor remained in tact until the end. When he learned that his system was shutting down, he made it very clear he wanted to return to his residence.”
In describing the prominent priest’s last days, Archbishop Etienne noted: “According to character, he was giving orders right up to the end!”
Father Moore’s last hours were filled with prayers and sacraments.
“I’m pleased I had the opportunity to express to him the deep and sincere appreciation of the entire archdiocese for his extraordinary life and ministry,” Archbishop Etienne said. “We celebrated the sacraments of reconciliation and anointing of the sick, and prayed together for his speedy journey home.”
Archbishop Etienne relayed Father Moore’s love for the people of the archdiocese and asked for “prayer for the repose of his soul and the comfort of his family and friends who will miss him much.”
Born in Redmond, Oregon, Father Moore was raised in the small farming community in the Yakima Valley. His parents owned “Moore’s Feed and Seed” and were active in their local parish.
Father Moore made a daily 35-mile round-trip commute to attend Yakima Central Catholic High School, graduating in 1967. He told the Catholic Anchor in 2010 that he was inspired to discern a call to the priesthood by clergy he knew in high school.
Father Moore began his studies for the priesthood at Mount St. Paul Seminary College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, later transferring to St. Thomas College in Kenmore, Washington, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 1972 and a master’s in theology in 1976.
He was ordained to the priesthood by then Fairbanks Bishop Robert Whelan on June 12, 1976, at St. Edwards Church in Seattle.
Father Moore served in Fairbanks for the first four years of his priesthood as a chaplain and teacher at Monroe Catholic High School and as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
In 1980 he moved to Anchorage and began serving for the Anchorage Archdiocese where he was officially incardinated in 1984 by late Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley, with whom he became close friends.
During his 41 years as a priest, Father Moore’s roles were wide-ranging; many times, he was called on to provide leadership in difficult situations. He served as vicar general from 1984 to 2003 and from 2008 to 2010. In an archdiocese’s chain of command, the vicar general is second only to the archbishop.
From 2011 to 2013 Father Moore stepped in to serve as the archdiocese’s chief operating officer/chief financial officer during a critical time, including successfully leading the EPA clean up of the former Copper Valley School site.
His other duties included being director of the archdiocesan liturgical commission, a member of the college of consultors, moderator of the curia, member of the archdiocesan finance council, defender of the bond, ecclesiastical notary and associate publisher of the Catholic Anchor newspaper.
Despite his myriad roles, Father Moore was most drawn to the pastoral work of the priesthood. In a 2010 interview with the Catholic Anchor he said his greatest joy as priest was being able to assist people at critical moments in their lives.
“It may be on the occasion of a funeral or some personal crisis or some moment of questioning or whatever,” he said, “when you’re able to have some kind of personal impact on another individual’s life in a positive way.”
Father Moore served in parishes all across the 138,000-square-mile archdiocese. In Anchorage he served as pastor of nearly every major parish including St. Patrick from 1992 to 2004, St. Benedict from 2007 to 2011, Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral from 2015 to 2016, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton from 2016 to 2017.
Archbishop Emeritus Roger Schwietz once praised his “flexibility,” noting that Father Moore moved four times in three years, to be where he was most needed. Father Moore was also a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and a Knight of Columbus.
In 2006, he completed studies in canon law from Catholic University of America.
Amid his many administrative and leadership roles, Father Moore kept his priesthood grounded through an enduring love for the Liturgy of the Hours, telling the Catholic Anchor that this was his favorite devotion.
“I have a real appreciation for the Liturgy of the Hours and the Breviary,” he said. “It’s praying with the church, it’s meditative. It allows me to kind of slow down and enter into something else for a while.”
In his spare time Father Moore loved to read, travel and take in musical concerts.
“I have a very wide range of music I like,” he once told the Anchor, “everything from opera to country and western.”
According to his obituary, in Father Moore’s final days he “expressed love, kindness and humor to those around, encouraging all to remember him with joy, celebration, and a raised glass of fine scotch.”
Archbishop Paul Etienne expressed gratitude for Father Moore’s life and ministry.
“The people of the archdiocese are saddened at the death of Father Moore,” he stated for Father Moore’s obituary. “At the same time, we thank God for his priestly life and ministry, his leadership, and wise counsel. His loving presence and friendship are a great loss.”
A Mass of Christian Burial was held Dec. 29 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral. Internment will occur in the spring at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.