The Southeast Alaska Catholic
July 22, 2011

By Father Carl Hawver, OFM

Father Carl Hawver, OFM

I am Fr. Carl Hawver, a Franciscan priest from southeast Indiana, a “rent-a-priest” in service to the Diocese of Juneau and welcomed by Bishop Burns. One of the ways of saying “thank you” to those who welcome me here in the diocese, as well as giving a grateful nod to those benefactors back home whose generosity maintains a traveling padre, is to write about what happens in the venture.

Summer 2011 is my fourteenth visit to our Church in Alaska—10 summers and four Christmases either spent in the Archdiocese of Anchorage or Diocese of Juneau. Having returned from two weeks’ service in Yakutat’s St. Ann Mission, I’m reflecting on a line in our Eucharistic Prayer One, “In union with the whole Church…” The people of Yakutat are realizing the loss of twelve citizens—eight of whom died in fishing related accidents. Ironically all eight wore appropriate life vests. Their deaths resulted from hypothermia—created by intensely cold water from glacial runoff and resulting in shock. Such situations of tragic loss impact families and cultures profoundly. In such circumstances, people of faith come together to pray, mourn, and grieve, asking the God of Life to grant everlasting rest to the departed, and comfort and compassion to those who remain.

In such times as these, our liturgical prayers and Scriptures can help those whose loss is great to find hope in the midst of profound sorrow. Let us join together praying for strength and deep peace for the Church and for the people of Yakutat at this time.