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Pope appoints Bishop Bellisario apostolic administrator of Anchorage Archdiocese

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On June 7, I was in Seattle attending the Mass of Reception for Archbishop Paul Etienne, the former archbishop of Anchorage and now the coadjutor archbishop of Seattle. It was a wonderful celebration attended by hundreds of the faithful of Seattle and beyond, and many bishops, priests, deacons, sisters and religious.

On the same day, Pope Francis appointed me the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Anchorage. What that means is that I will be ministering in both the Diocese of Juneau and the Archdiocese of Anchorage until the pope appoints a new archbishop. I do not know when Holy Father Francis will appoint the new archbishop.

An apostolic administrator is a bishop who is appointed by the pope to see to the good order and administration of a diocese that is awaiting the appointment of a permanent bishop. In addition to his usual pastoral responsibilities as bishop, the apostolic administrator has the authority to make the necessary decisions for the daily operations of the diocese. Major decisions and initiatives are deferred to the new bishop unless an urgent situation requires action. The apostolic administrator is charged with deciding what issues need to be addressed during this interim period and what issues need to wait for the attention of the new archbishop. The role of the apostolic administrator ends when the new archbishop is installed. While serving as the apostolic administrator of Anchorage, I remain the bishop of Juneau.

After Easter, I visited Saint Gregory Nazianzen parish in Sitka; Saint John’s by the Sea parish in Klawock, and Holy Name parish in Ketchikan. At Holy Name parish we celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation on Mother’s Day. Confirmation was also celebrated on May 26 at St. Paul the Apostle parish in Juneau.

On May 18, I was in Chicago for the ordination of Bemnet Melaku, C.M. He is the first deacon I have ordained a priest and I am happy that it was one of my Vincentian confreres. Father Melaku can celebrate the sacraments in both the Latin Rite and the Ge’ez Rite (the liturgy of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, one of some twenty-three Eastern Churches that are in union with the Bishop of Rome). The ordination was a beautiful celebration that included elements of the Ge’ez Rite. We were honored by the presence of Ethiopian Catholic Bishop Lesanuchristos Matheos, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I ask for your prayers for Father Melaku and for all newly ordained priests.

On July 13, at Saint Gregory Nazianzen parish in Sitka, I will ordain Mr. James Wallace a deacon for the Diocese of Juneau. James has completed his third year of theology studies at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. James was assigned to parish ministry at Saint Gregory Nazianzen for the summer and has been in Sitka since the end of May. In late August, he will return to Mundelein Seminary for his fourth year of theology. We all look forward to his ordination as a priest next spring.

On June 6, I had the privilege of a visit from Father Paul Kim, the Superior General of the Korean Missionary Society (KMS) and his Vicar, Father Albert Kim. The Korean Missionary Society currently provides four priests in Alaska, including Father Augustine Minn in the Diocese of Juneau. Father Andrew Lee, Father Michael Ko, and Father Michael Kim minister in the Archdiocese of Anchorage.

On the weekend of June 22-23, I will be filling in for Father Patrick Travers at Holy Name Church in Ketchikan as he completes his final military training in Anchorage during the last two weeks of June. Father Pat is a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve. He retires at the end of this month after 28 years of service. During his years of service, Father Pat served three tours of duty outside the United States; one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan, and one in the Persian Gulf region. As a military chaplain, he has ministered to countless men and women in uniform and their families. Congratulations Father Pat on your retirement and a sincere thank you for your service!

Finally, I ask for your prayers for the people of God in the Archdiocese of Anchorage as they await their new archbishop, and for me as I begin my ministry among them.

Many blessings and peace,

Bishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M.