Father Jules Jette (1864-1927) made good on his high standards. As a missionary priest coming to Alaska in 1898, his primary role meant conversions and baptisms among the Athabaskans, but as a scholar, he wanted to chronicle the multitudinous complexities of the Koyukon Athabaskan language and culture. As a humanitarian who loved the Ten’a people, the melding of those two vocations meant Father Jette was uniquely able to bestow a lasting gift on Alaska’s unknown future:
In the wake of the devastating earthquake, Anchorage drew the attention of Rome. A papal representative, had visited Anchorage before the earthquake to bless the city’s first Catholic school. He came back immediately after the earthquake to see the devastation. Observing how large Anchorage was, he recommended it become its own diocese. The proposal then went to Pope Paul VI who created the archdiocese in 1966.
Anchorage Archbishop Emeritus Francis Hurley celebrated his 45th anniversary as a bishop on March 19. This came just on the heels of his 88th birthday, Jan. 12. With nearly nine decades behind him, he still begins each day presiding over Mass in his Anchorage home. Those taking part are friends, visitors and his own care-givers in their uniforms, huddled close in the humble, yet richly symbolic chapel.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was elevated to co-cathedral status Dec. 12 in a Mass featuring many ethnic cultural celebrations and attended by Alaska’s four bishops and Vatican ambassador, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. More than 700 people packed the largest Catholic church in Alaska and one of the state’s most ethnically diverse parishes. Several attended in traditional cultural costumes, Peruvian, Filipino, Mexican, Columbian, Samoan and Alaska Native peoples and several took part in the liturgy.
An historic chair once used by Saint Pope John Paul II will play a central role when Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is established as a co-cathedral for the Anchorage Archdiocese on Dec. 12. Now considered a relic of the recently canonized pope, the high backed carved walnut chair, circa 1900, has resided in Archbishop Emeritus Francis Hurley’s private chapel in Anchorage since the pope’s landmark visit at Delaney Park Strip on Feb. 26, 1981.