By: Dominique Johnson
It was 2 a.m. Alaska time (Noon in Rome) July 11th, when Pope Francis appointed Vincentian priest Father Andrew E. Bellisario the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Juneau. Father Bellisario will take the seat left vacant when Bishop Edward J. Burns was installed as the bishop of Dallas, TX in February.
Father Bellisario, a member of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers and Brothers) founded by Saint Vincent de Paul in 1625, was ordained a priest for the Vincentians, Province of the West, in 1984. For the past two years, Father Bellisario has served as the Superior of the International Mission of the Vincentians in Alaska, and since May of 2016 as the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Anchorage.
Following the early morning announcement, the bishop-elect began the day inviting the diocesan chancery staff to join him for morning prayer at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by an introductory meeting with his new staff, before his midmorning press conference.
In his first address to the media as bishop-elect, Father Bellisario shared his joy in being named bishop of Juneau and asked for the support of the people of Southeast Alaska.
“As I begin a new ministry as a bishop and as chief shepherd of the people of God here in this diocese, I have so much to learn from you. I respectfully ask you to help form me into the best possible bishop I can be.”
Father Andrew continued saying, “I now declare to all the people of the Diocese of Juneau, that it is with the strength of my arms and the sweat of my brow that I completely dedicate myself to serving you.”
The bishop-elect then shared his gratitude for those who have supported and guided him through the years, including the Vincentian Superiors, the bishops of Alaska, Archbishop Paul Etienne, Archbishop Emeritus Roger Schwietz, Bishop Chad Zielinski, and his predecessor Bishop Edward Burns. He also thanked Father Pat Travers, “for serving as the Diocesan Administrator, a position he has served well.”
Father Andrew concluded his first press conference with a quote from Ephesians which he said would be the theme of his episcopal ministry.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.”
On his first trip to Alaska’s Capital City, Father Bellisario celebrated Mass at the Cathedral, as well as at St. Paul the Apostle Parish. He also visited the National Shrine of St. Therese and the Mendenhall Glacier as he became acquainted with his new home.
In an interview on KINY with Pete Carran, Father Bellisario wanted those living outside of Juneau to know, “I look forward very, very much and very soon to introducing myself to you personally, to meeting you personally…and to being your brother.”
Father Andrew E. Bellisario, C.M. will be ordained and installed as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Juneau October 10th, 2017 at 2pm at St Paul the Apostle Church in Juneau. All are invited to attend the ceremony.
You can watch Father Bellisario’s press conference on our website, DioceseofJuneau.org.