In late September, members of the Anchorage Archdiocese chancery staff traveled to St. John Neumann Mission in Cooper Landing to honor and improve the gravesite of late Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley.
The mission church is home to one of the few cemeteries located on parish grounds in the Anchorage Archdiocese.
Before his death in 2016, Archbishop Hurley had requested that his body be buried in the small parish cemetery, a two-hour drive south of Anchorage and surrounded by forests with views of the Chugach Mountains.
Volunteers from the archdiocese included Chancellor John Harmon, Director of Stewardship and Development, Nathan McCabe and Executive Assistant to Archbishop Paul Etienne Kim Bakic. The trio spent the day making improvements to the late archbishop’s gravesite.
They leveled the site and added rock surrounded with buried edging to help impede the encroachment of vegetation. A crucifix marker was installed, the gravestone permanently affixed, a bench was added, and the gravesite was planted with a border of rosebushes.
Joann White, longtime secretary to Archbishop Hurley, provided the ideas for enhancing the gravesite. In addition to these improvements, signs are on order to properly direct visitors to the site.
Archbishop Hurley died on Jan. 10, 2016, two days shy of his 89th birthday. After serving as bishop of Juneau from 1970-76, he served as archbishop of Anchorage from 1976 until his retirement in 2001.