For 50 years Peggy Bergsrud has been involved in ministry around the Archdiocese of Anchorage. She volunteered as a foster parent for Catholic Social Services in 1974, was involved in developing the second location of Brother Francis Shelter in an old municipal warehouse, worked with the late Fr. Steve Moore to develop the Clare House and coordinated international press during Pope John Paul II 1981 visit to Anchorage. Having been involved in these ministries and many others over the last 50 years, has helped her find success as the archivist for the archdiocese.
Like the other ministries she was involved in, Bergsrud didn’t actively seek out the position as archivist but was invited. “I have been invited to each of the jobs I have been involved in. I have never felt qualified, and in fact, have said I am not qualified, but was always interested.”
It was Barbara Block, who recommended Bergsrud for the volunteer position, and in February 2018 she began helping the archdiocese to organize its history.
Bergsrud said that the archives are essential for the archdiocese because they contain the history of parishes, the schools and the ministers who have served through the years. When working on the 50th anniversary display for St. Anthony’ s parish, she learned that the original building plans included a Catholic School. This information was news to all the parishioners, who weren’t familiar with this part of the parish’s history.
To preserve the history of the archdiocese, Bergsrud began recording oral histories of staff, priests and parishioners that have served the archdiocese since its establishment. To do this, Bergrud takes her iPhone and records video interviews. She joked that she purchased her first iPhone one month before she started working in the archives, “Now I know why people want iPhones.”
Bergsrud said that having these oral histories will help share the story of the archdiocese with future generations. They will be able to “see who this person is and hear them share their story.” The next oral history interview she has scheduled is with Joanne White, who was Archbishop Hurley’s secretary.
Also, to help save the history for future generations, Bergsrud started digitizing photos and documents that date back to the first parishes in Alaska. Some of the items date back to the early 1900s. She is making inventories in spreadsheets and using what she calls “Mac truck management,” so the ministry will continue if she is hit by a Mac truck.
It was because of her tireless effort to digitize and record oral histories that Bergsrud was nominated by the Archdiocese of Anchorage for the 2019 Catholic Extension Lumen Christi Award. In the nomination letter for the award, former Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne said, “Through her passion, she is making the history of the archdiocese more accessible to all parishes and missions.”
At age 78, Bergsrud said she doesn’t plan on slowing down her involvement in ministries. She said her mentality has always been, “If I see a need, I want to address it.” She says she will continue addressing the needs of the Church as best as she can.