Diocese teens begin WYD pilgrimage

The pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland has begun! Diocese of Juneau Youth Ministry leader Heather Shaw shared the following posts and photos via Facebook in the last few days of the Alaska pilgrims’ stop in Ireland, enroute to Poland. World Youth Day in Krakow with Pope Francis begins on July 25th and runs through July 31st.

July 18 – “After 15 hours of traveling, our 23 pilgrims from the Diocese of Juneau finally made it to Ireland! We visited the Rock of Cashel and the Cahir Castle today while taking in the beautiful scenery. St. Patrick and St. Brigid, pray for us!”

July 19 – “Today we had a busy day of experiencing the culture of Ireland! We went to the Cliffs of Moher, visited St. Brigit’s well and shrine, saw a relic of St. Thérèse in Galway Cathedral, and ended the day with Trad on the Prom – a musical event showcasing traditional Irish music and river dancing!”

July 20 – “Today our pilgrims got to attend mass with the nine Benedictine nuns of Kylemore Abbey and it was so beautiful! We also got to explore the Connemara countryside. Ireland just keeps getting better and better! Thank you for your prayers, we are praying for our community and family back home everyday!”

July 21 – “Our second to last day in Ireland was filled with so many graces. We hiked Croagh Patrick, a holy mountain that pilgrims have hiked as penitential sacrifice for centuries and the same one that St. Patrick climber barefoot. Then we had mass at Knock Shrine where the people of Knock witnessed an apparition of Mary. Our Lady of Knock, pray for us!”

July 23 – “We were joined today (in Krakow) by our remaining pilgrims from the Diocese of Juneau, and we’ve loved growing closer with our brothers and sisters from around the state! Especially during the 8 hour bus ride from Berlin to Kraków! We made it to the dormitories in Poland and ended the night with mass outside on the tennis courts with 119 pilgrims. Praise God!”





119 Alaska WYD pilgrims gather together for Mass with Bishop Edward Burns on their first evening in Krakow.


Diocese of Juneau teens arrive in Krakow, Poland for World Youth Day.



U.S. Bishops, including Bishop Edward Burns at right, arrive in Krakow for World Youth Day.

See related article:

Alaska to send 119 pilgrims to World Youth Day in Poland

Photos at our Flickr page

FOCUS builds community in Yakutat

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In May, the dream of having a playground in Yakutat became a reality thanks in part to 18 Catholic college student missionaries. The two-week mission was set up and hosted by Craig Johring with Hope of the Poor. Johring does mission work each summer within the Diocese of Juneau in Southeast Alaska. The mission was sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).13327602_1117863614901547_6278215885539046176_n

The City of Yakutat worked with the Rasmuson Foundation to design and fund the playground. The playground was custom designed using images from native Yakutat elders, and includes state of the art safety with AstroTurf underneath.

The Catholic missionaries worked alongside a team of AmeriCorps volunteers and city employees during the eight days of construction. The kids in Yakutat counted down the days until the playground was finished.

The lives of the college students were impacted through serving and stepping into the lives of people in Yakutat. In addition to building the playground the students held a Kids’ Bible Club each day at St. Ann’s Catholic Church. After the playground was finished they served the elderly in the community.

The 18 college students experienced the joy of pouring their lives into people and seeing Christ in the lives of people they served. In Matthew 25:40 Jesus taught, “Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine you did it to me.”


Student  spotlight 

During the past 2 years Craig Johring has brought 65 college students involved in the  Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) to Southeast Alaska to serve on mission projects. The lives of these college students have been deeply impacted through the opportunity to serve the youth and the elderly in Southeast Alaska. Rachel Sirois from the University of Maine who took part in the Yakutat Mission in May, shares the following:

“Upon returning home from my May FOCUS mission trip to Yakutat, Alaska, people have asked me: ‘How was it?’ In response, all I have been able to muster up is: ‘There are no words. I would go back in a heartbeat and I want everyone to experience Alaska in the way that I did.’ There are truly no words to adequately describe the genuine love and blessings I received from this mission trip. God worked and continues to work in incredible ways in the lives of all those we encountered in Yakutat. The community is incredibly generous and you can clearly see that they desire to do God’s will and grow in faith each and every day. I recognize that the intention of the trip was to serve and love the Yakutat community, which we did, though they truly served and loved us as Christ loves as well. I can certainly say that I have left a piece of my heart in Yakutat and I cannot wait to go back someday. God is so good!”      – Rachel Sirois

Learn more about FOCUS missions at http://www.focusmissions.org

FOCUS group

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A new vocation for St. Paul the Apostle Church

By Bishop Edward J. Burns

On Wednesday, July 6th, I met with St. Paul’s parishioners to discuss the recent decision of the Congregation of Bishops in Rome to approve the petition to make St. Paul the Apostle Church the Co-Cathedral of the Diocese. Allow me to share with you some background and our next steps.

Within the resolutions of the Second Diocesan Synod in November 2013, it was promulgated that “the tabernacle in which the Most Blessed Sacrament is reserved in each Church building be located in the main worship space so as to promote reverence toward the Real Presence of Christ and for the holiness of the worship space itself.” At the Diocesan Synod, it was accepted that in addressing sacred spaces and liturgical practices in the Diocese, the universal norms of the Church found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Liturgical Norms of the Diocese of Juneau would be followed. The survey of St. Paul parishioners conducted prior to the Synod about moving the tabernacle to the main worship space received majority support. In September of 2014 the Presbyteral Council (the priests of the Diocese) unanimously agreed that the Diocese should begin looking at renovating and reorienting the liturgical space of St. Paul Church. This was brought before the Full-Time Ministers of the Diocese at its September meeting the same year and the proposal of renovating St. Paul’s Church received overwhelming support.

With this information, I brought the idea of renovating St. Paul the Apostle Church before the pastoral council of the Diocese and they gave unanimous support for this renovation. I also met with the pastoral council and staff of St. Paul’s at a meeting in October 2014. At that meeting, Fr. Pat Travers explained the need for renovation. First of all, he pointed out that there is no clearly defined sanctuary (the area where the altar, the tabernacle, the pulpit, the presider and ministers are located). It was pointed out that the diagonal arrangement of the aisles and entrance make for a certain disorienting effect, especially affecting the celebration of weddings and funerals, for which there is no clear processional route. It was noted that pallbearers are not sure where the casket is to be placed for the funeral Mass.

The placement of the three areas of pews at right angles to one another breaks up the unity of the assembly. The fact that the left pew area (from the priest’s standpoint) is the one nearest the entrance to the Church means that, for many celebrations, most of the assembly is seated on that side, rather than being distributed throughout the Church. There are severe safety issues with the uneven surface of the concrete floor and its complicated system of steps and low dividers: this has necessitated the placement of black and yellow safety tape to mark the hazards. The Church does not have a dedicated confessional for the Sacrament of Penance, and the current placement of the tabernacle brings confusion to the faithful as to whether parishioners should genuflect in that area.


St. Paul the Apostle Church during a May 2015 Diaconal ordination.

When the steering committee for the renovation of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary entered into full study and due diligence, it was evident that the Cathedral is too small to accommodate most Diocesan celebrations. With this in mind, it was proposed that St. Paul Church be identified as a Co-Cathedral. For the past number of years, St. Paul the Apostle Church has been the site for a Bishop’s Installation, Diocesan Blue Masses, Ordinations, and historical gatherings such as the Second Synod of the Diocese and the upcoming Southeast Alaska Catholic Conference. The Cathedral downtown is not equipped to handle such celebrations; it is not large enough to accommodate diocesan liturgies.

I presented to those at the town hall meeting that being raised to the dignity of a Cathedral is an honor for St. Paul the Apostle Church and that this identifies a new vocation for the life of the parish – one that has been graciously lived out through the past celebrations, but now will be poised and identified as the rightful place for such celebrations.

Therefore, I petitioned the Holy See to seek Co-Cathedral status for St. Paul’s and indicated in the proposal that much work has gone into discussing a renovation and that it is part of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan. The Prefect of Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, has determined that such a renovation and reorientation of the interior is necessary so that St. Paul’s can become the diocesan Co-Cathedral and serve as a model for the celebration of the liturgy and sacraments for the entire Diocese.

While a number of parishioners raised the concern about the cost of this project, especially since the parish is still addressing its mortgage, I indicated that I am aware of the need to be prudent and an effective steward of our resources. A number of parishioners also expressed a concern about changing the design. I announced that I will be establishing a steering committee to propose the scope, depth and details of this renovation and reorientation. I also indicated that the financial cost, while not yet identified, will be the responsibility of the Diocese as a whole and not simply the responsibility of St. Paul’s. It is important to note that a timeframe for this project has not been determined. In other words, we are at our nascent stages in addressing this endeavor. I asked parishioners to submit to me names and qualifications of those who would serve well in this capacity.

Future town hall meetings will be planned to gain insights from the parishioners about the process and to keep them informed about the progress.

Missionary of Mercy to take part in fall diocesan conference

The planning committee for the fall Southeast Catholic Conference in Juneau, Infinite Mercy, has announced that one of the Missionaries of Mercy commissioned by Pope Francis for the Holy Year of Mercy, will be a presenter and will also minister at the Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 conference.

Father John Paul Mary Zeller, MFVA is a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, a religious community of men, founded by the late Mother Mary Angelica, PCPA. The MFVA’s were founded in 1987 by Mother Mary Angelica to preach and teach the Catholic Faith through the modern means of social communication, television, radio, internet and printed word, as well as leading retreats and attending to the spiritual and sacramental needs of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.


Fr. John Paul Mary Zeller is sent forth as a Missionary of Mercy by Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday, 2016, at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Father John Paul was ordained to the priesthood by His Excellency Robert J. Baker on June 22, 2013 in the Cathedral of St. Paul in the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama.  His current assignment is at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama as the Assistant Chaplain.

On Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016, Father John Paul Mary was commissioned by His Holiness Pope Francis, as a Missionary of Mercy during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. He received a special mandate to preach and to teach about the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, Forgiveness, the Mercy of God and in Pope Francis own words— “the closeness of God.”

Pope Francis gave all the Missionaries of Mercy the faculties to lift the excommunication and absolve from 4 specific penalties or “sins” otherwise reserved to the Holy See. The four specifics are: Profaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose; the use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff; the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment and a direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.

Pope Francis reminded each of the Missionaries of Mercy that it is Christ who welcomes, it is Christ who listens and it is Christ who forgives in the Confessional.

Novena at the Shrine of St. Therese

our-lady-of-mount-carmelOur Lady of Mt. Carmel Novena
at the Shrine of St. Therese • July 9 – 17

— All are welcome —

July 9 @ 7p.m. – 1st Day:  Mary, welcoming model.
July 10 @ 7p.m. – 2nd Day:  Mary, wonderful in her service.
July 11@ 7p.m. – 3rd Day: Mary, the mother who clothes us with the Scapular.
July 12@ 7p.m. – 4th Day: Mary, contemplative woman.
July 13@ 7p.m. – 5th Day: Mary, Lady of the offering.
July 14 @ 7p.m. – 6th Day: Mary, untiring seeker of God.
July 15 @ 7p.m. – 7th Day: Mary, listening virgin.
July 16 @ 7p.m.- 8th Day: Mary, mother at the foot of the cross.
July 17 @ 1:00p.m.- 9th Day:  Mary, sister in the Christian community.
Holy Mass @ 1:30p.m.

A novena is a series of prayers that are said for nine straight days. The nine days recall the nine days that the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday.



Vatican responds to Diocese of Juneau Co-Cathedral petition

Bishop Edward J. Burns has shared the contents of the recent letter to the Diocese of Juneau responding to the diocesan application to the Vatican Congregation for Bishops for ‘Elevation of the Status of St. Paul the Apostle Church to Co-Cathedral.’ (See letter below.)

The current Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located in downtown Juneau; built in 1911 it was originally constructed to serve as a parish church and was made the Cathedral when the Diocese of Juneau was established in 1951. The population of Juneau was approximately 7,000 at that time; today it is over 30,000. Unfortunately, the present Cathedral can only accommodate 150 people; in recent years, large liturgical events have been held at St. Paul the Apostle Church in the Mendenhall Valley, which accommodates 600.


St. Paul the Apostle Church in Juneau.

Last August the Diocese of Juneau began the process of seeking an elevation in status of St. Paul the Apostle Church to that of Co-Cathedral.

A town hall meeting with Bishop Burns to discuss the following letter will be held at St. Paul the Apostle on Wednesday, July 6th at 6:30 pm.


Vatican City, May 9, 2016

Your Excellency,

I am in receipt of your letter and relative documentation of August 31, 2015, in which you proposed to this Congregation that, due to the pastoral necessities of the Diocese of Juneau, the parish church of Saint Paul in Juneau be elevated to the dignity of Co-Cathedral.

I would like to inform you that after an attentive study of your request, this Congregation agrees that a larger church be named Co-Cathedral for the Diocese of Juneau. This Dicastery has also received the favorable opinions of both Archbishop Roger L. Schweitz, Metropolitan of Anchorage, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, regarding this proposal. Furthermore, you report that you have obtained the necessary consent of the College of Consultors and of the Presbyteral Council as required by Canon Law.

I was pleased to read that you are planning a renovation of the interior of Saint Paul church in order to adapt it for use as a Co-Cathedral, so that it may serve as a model for the other churches of the Diocese. The general aspects you mention in your proposal, such as making a clearly defined sanctuary by reorienting the interior to a more traditional basilica layout and relocating the tabernacle in the sanctuary are very sound. This Dicastery encourages you to continue following those directives found in the Ceremonial of Bishops and in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal regarding the sanctuary and furnishings for a Cathedral church.

Finally, this Congregation will proceed with the preparation of the Decree of Elevation of the parish church of Saint Paul to the dignity of Co-Cathedral upon the completion of these renovations. I would kindly ask, therefore, that you notify this Dicastery, through the apostolic Nuncio, when these renovations have been completed.

With prayerful best wishes for this effort and kind regards, I am

            Sincerely yours in Christ,
            Marc Cardinal Ouellet, P.S.S.