One of the most prominent and long-serving priests in the Anchorage Archdiocese, Father Steven Moore, has been diagnosed with an aggressive and inoperable form of cancer.
In a letter sent to pastors and parish leaders, Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne explained the details of Father Moore’s situation. Father Moore is currently the pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in south Anchorage.
“As you all know Father Moore has been dealing with some serious health issues since August 2016,” he said. “The cancer, named angiosarcoma, is known to be an aggressive cancer. However, it did respond well to the initial radiation and surgery. And both Father Moore and his doctors were quite optimistic. Unfortunately, his situation has changed over the last six weeks.”
On Feb. 24 Father Moore returned to Seattle for a follow-up visit. That’s when a mass was found in his lungs. Doctors were unable to perform a biopsy because of its location. Father Moore returned to Seattle the week before Holy Week, about six weeks after the first scans. At that time doctors found that the areas of concern had grown significantly.
“The only option at this point is chemotherapy and the only thing chemotherapy will do to this cancer is slow its progression,” Archbishop Etienne said. “There is no possibility of cure or remission.”
He explained that chemotherapy could possibly extend Father Moore’s life to 22-24 months but it would also mean being on chemotherapy the rest of his life with the possibility of significant side effects.
“Without chemo, the prognosis is 9-12 months,” Archbishop Etienne noted. “Of course, those are estimates by the physicians and there is a possibility of difference on either end of the time range. Father Moore is considering his options as to chemotherapy.”
For his part, Father Moore said he is feeling fine at the moment.
“Yes, really I am feeling fine,” he told Archbishop Etienne. “I am not sick, I just have cancer.”
None-the-less Father Moore is realistic about his situation and knows that it is important to plan for the needs of his parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the changes that are coming in his life, Archbishop Etienne explained.
“He and I have been in discussion about what steps should be taken for the future,” he said. “For the immediate future he will remain as pastor, although I have asked him to cut back on his time commitments to something closer to 75 percent of fulltime.”
“We will continue to monitor his energy and ability to carry out his priestly ministry and simply make adjustments as the future unfolds,” Archbishop Etienne said.
Archbishop Etienne added that, while Father Moore is “very clear about his medical situation and prospects” he remains “open to a miracle.”
“He particularly asks for the intercession of Blessed Emilie Gamelin, foundress of the Sisters of Providence, and would ask you to remember that in your prayers,” he said.
Archbishop Etienne concluded his letter promising to pray for and support Father Moore.
Father Moore has worked in many capacities for the Anchorage Archdiocese. He has served as pastor for a number of prominent area parishes including St. Benedict, St. Patrick, Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. He has also overseen Lumen Christi High School and has served as vicar general for the late Archbishop Francis Hurley and Archbishop Emeritus Roger Schwietz. In a diocese’s chain of command, the position of vicar general is second only to the bishop.
Several years ago, Father Moore stepped in to serve as our chief operating officer/chief financial officer during a very critical time, including successfully leading the EPA clean up of the former Copper Valley School site. He also serves as associate publisher for the Catholic Anchor.
Father Moore was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Fairbanks in 1976. Shortly thereafter he was incardination and permanently assigned to the Anchorage Archdiocese where he has served since.