Father Paul Edward Scanlon, the tall, prayerful Dominican priest who had a major hand in establishing Dominican friars in Anchorage, died on Nov. 19 of respiratory failure in Los Angeles, Calif. He was 82. He served as provincial leader over the entire Western Dominican Province from 1969 to 1977. During that time, he accepted an invitation by late Anchorage Archbishop Joseph Ryan to bring Dominican friars to Anchorage to care for and run Holy Family Cathedral in downtown Anchorage. At that time, Father Scanlon was impressed by the need for Dominicans to establish a presence in Alaska. They’ve been here ever since.
According to a new report by the American Values Atlas, Alaskans are far less likely than the general U.S. population to be affiliated with any particular religion or denomination. The report looked at a random sampling of 338 Alaskans across the state in 2014. Findings showed that 28 percent of Alaskans were unaffiliated. Nationally this number is growing, but Alaska is six percentage points higher than the national average.
The Catholic Hispanic population is one of Alaska’s fastest growing segments, and the recent arrival of two new priests has boosted outreach to this diverse group within the Anchorage Archdiocese with an eye to eventually serving pockets of Hispanic Catholics throughout the archdiocese.
The incoming priests are members of the Congregation of the Mission, popularly known as Vincentians. “This assignment is an international mission given us by our superior general in Rome,” Father Bellisario told the Catholic Anchor. The international aspect means priests can be called from various countries to help serve in Alaska.
The annual St. Francis of Assisi Awards honor Alaskans from across the Anchorage Archdiocese who embody lives of service in the spirit of the much beloved Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order. This year, eight individuals or groups were honored for their selfless dedication during the awards banquet at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage.
“Being able to connect faith with academics makes the whole circle complete,” she added. “The kids are very aware of who Jesus is and what choices Jesus wants for us in life. I don’t ever have to worry about offending anyone if we talk about Jesus. That’s why I teach here…I honestly don’t know if I could work again in an environment where faith wasn’t included.”
Twenty-year-old Brendon Mezzetti is mastering the musical world at his fingertips and offering his growing talents to the liturgical service of the Catholic Church in Alaska. Mezzetti grew up performing in the Alaska Children’s’ Choir and local small theatrical venues. A Suzuki-trained pianist since age eight, his command at the keyboard was initially harnessed while participating in community theater as a pre-teen, where he was casually tasked with transcribing a 256-page score to accompany a stage production. He dove in, and has accumulated honors at every level.