By Dominique Johnson
October 1st marks the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux in the Catholic Church. This feast holds significance in the state of Alaska as St. Therese is the patroness of Alaska, the Diocese of Juneau and the missions. For this reason, for the second straight year, the bishops of the last frontier, Bishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M., Bishop Chad Zielinski, and Archbishop Emeritus Roger Schwietz, OMI came together to celebrate Mass at the National Shrine of St. Therese.
Bishop Chad Zielinski of Fairbanks was the principal celebrant for the Mass; he processed in with the crosier of Bishop Joseph Crimont, who was the first bishop of Alaska. In his homily, Bishop Zielinski shared how in 1920, Bishop Crimont placed the Alaska missions under the protection of St. Therese. Bishop Crimont did this after learning that St. Therese, while on earth wanted to be a missionary.
Bishop Zielinski continued his homily saying that like the early Catholics of Alaska, the little way of St. Therese influenced the way his family raised him and his siblings. in what he called, “The Zielinski Way.” The bishop recalled and how The Zielinski Way taught them to respect the dignity of the poor and challenged them to befriend those at school who didn’t have friends.
Bishop Zielinski concluded his homily asking the congregation how the Little Way of St. Therese influences their lives and families. He challenged everyone to ask St. Therese, “To come into our families, into our lives, into our parishes, to shake things up,” as we adopt the little way.