By Angie DelMoral

St. Gregory parish in Sitka gathers for the installation as pastor of Fr. Andrew Sensenig, OMI.
St. Gregory parish in Sitka gathers for the installation as pastor of Fr. Andrew Sensenig, OMI.

On Sunday, November 23, 2014, Bishop Edward Burns installed Father Andrew Sensenig, OMI as the pastor at St. Gregory Nazianzen Catholic Church in Sitka. Very Reverend Bill Antone, OMI, Provincial, from Washington D.C. and Father Patrick Casey, OMI of Juneau were also present for the installation and Mass.

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Fr Andy Sensenig, OMI

Special moments during the installation ceremony included Bishop Burns presenting Father Andy with the official church seal and keys to the church, and formally introducing Father Andy to St. Gregory’s staff, pastoral council, and congregation. Father Andy also made a Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity, which was followed by a procession to the baptistry, confessional, ambo, ambry, tabernacle, and presidential chair, where the bishop entrusted Father Andy with the ministries that each symbolizes.

Father Andy’s installation comes nearly one year after the death of Father Jim Blaney, OMI who served as pastor of St. Gregory’s from 2011-2013. A special element of the installation Mass included using Father Jim’s ordination chalice—a symbolic reminder to Father Andy to continue the missionary efforts and good work of his Oblate brothers, Father Jim and Father Paul Wightman, OMI, who served at St. Gregory’s before him.

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Bishop Edward J. Burns installs Fr. Andy Sensenig, OMI, as pastor of St. Gregory Nazianzen Church in Sitka, AK. (Nov. 23, 2014.)

After the Mass, parishioners filled Corrigan Hall for a potluck celebration to welcome Father Andy as their new, official pastor.

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Fr. Andy holds the late Fr. Jim Blaney’s ordination chalice—a symbolic reminder to Father Andy to continue the missionary efforts and good work of his Oblate brothers, Father Jim and Father Paul Wightman, OMI, who served at St. Gregory’s before him.

In reflecting upon his installation Mass, Father Andy said he was most touched by how Bishop Burns and Father Bill Antone responded to the community and how the community responded to them. The interactions proved to him how the Diocese of Juneau and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate walk hand-in-hand evangelizing with the people of Southeast Alaska, and it exemplifies their strong belief in proclaiming the Gospel in a collaborative manner.

Father Andy was also grateful to Father Pat Casey for taking time from his busy schedule as rector of the Juneau cathedral to be a strong and loving support as a fellow priest and brother Oblate. “I’ve known Father Pat since my days as a novice and he’s always been a prime example of what a Missionary Oblate should be,” Father Andy said. “He’s compassionate and innovative in reaching out to the poor.  He’s an inspiration and he motivates me to be a better Oblate.”