After a record turnout for its fifth summer camp season, St. Therese’s Camp in Wasilla is expanding again. “It’s the highest attendance ever,” said Camp Director Rudy Poglitsh, noting the camp was at 95 percent capacity with 261 youngsters over the five weeks of camps.
In the garden level of a nondescript modest Alaska house, three African nuns joyously sing upbeat, soulful praise. Their white habits swish as they sway and shake maracas. The altar and tabernacle are flanked by statues depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“You place a crown on your head, and people are interested in what you have to say,” observed reigning Miss Alaska Angelina Klapperich. “It’s a very unique opportunity, and I want to make as much use of that as I can and spread good messages.”
Fifteen-year-old Jeni Lachance approached Covenant House in downtown Anchorage and peered through the glass doors for her first glimpse inside a homeless shelter. She stood in the bleak November darkness, uncertain what to do though she had no alternatives.
The outreach will only see greater demands in the coming decades as Alaska is home to the fastest-growing 65-and-older population per capita in the country, according to state demographer Eddie Hunsinger.
In the Anchorage bowl, Marian gardens are cropping up outside private homes and on parish grounds. Whether still purchasing annuals for a humble window box or welcoming back perennial blooms in established landscaping, dedicating or rededicating flowerbeds can cultivate new meaning as a sacred space honoring Our Lady.
To fear the pain and unknowns of death is a normal human emotion, but faithful Christians can find solace in the hope of resurrection. The solemnity of Lent and celebration of Easter serve as a reminder of the promise of eternal life.
Traditional Yup’ik dance was a form of prayer, a ritualistic plea to the spirit world in the land that would one day be known as Alaska. In that long-ago age, the shaman donned masks representing animal spirits and led the tribe in singing, dancing and drumming to petition the spirits for specific needs. In the late 1800s Christian missionaries including Jesuit priests banned the Natives’ ancient ceremonial dancing, condemning it as evil pagan idolatry.
Today this eminent Montessori approach is nurturing the faith of thousands of toddlers to tweens worldwide. Since its founding in 1954, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd has flourished in 37 countries and more than 1,250 locations in the U.S., including adapted versions in Episcopal and Orthodox settings. Yet in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, CGS subsists only as a little known gem within St. Patrick Church and on a limited basis at Holy Family Cathedral, both in Anchorage.
Alaska’s Orthodox Christian leaders praised Pope Francis and applauded a series of recent high profile meetings between him and Orthodox Patriarch on Constantinople Bartholomew, but they also expressed guarded enthusiasm about whether the encounters constitute significant progress toward uniting the long-divided churches.