Archbishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M., announced that Vicar General Father Patrick “Fr. Pat” Travers will be the new chief operating officer and chancellor for the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau. He replaces John Harmon, who retires later this month after serving the church in Alaska for 10 years.
“As the archdiocese moves forward, we are fortunate to have Fr. Pat’s leadership at the chancery,” said the archbishop.
Fr. Pat is no stranger to the COO and chancellor position. In addition to serving as the vicar general, judicial vicar, and pastor at Holy Name Parish in Ketchikan, Alaska, Fr. Pat also held the position of chancellor in the former Diocese of Juneau from 1995 to 2020.
In addition to his experience in Juneau, Fr. Pat is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School. Fr. Pat also received his canon law degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and he retired as a chaplain from the U.S. Air Force at the rank of colonel.
Similar to his role as vicar general and chancellor for the former Diocese of Juneau, Fr. Pat will wear both hats in the new Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau and continue to serve as pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Anchorage.
“Fr. Pat is well suited for this leadership position,” Harmon said, “and this is a good time in the unification process for a transition.”
In his role as COO and chancellor, Fr. Pat will oversee the canonical record-keeping responsibilities of the job. He will also handle day-to-day operations of the archdiocese, including the continued unification efforts of the former dioceses, which as Harmon states, “has been and continues to be a momentous task.”
Pope Francis formed the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau on May 19, 2020. This action united the former Archdiocese of Anchorage and the former Diocese of Juneau. On Sept. 17, 2020, on behalf of Pope Francis, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre installed Bishop Andrew Bellisario as its first archbishop. Since that time, there have been focused efforts to unify the former dioceses.
One of the first efforts of unification by Archbishop Bellisario resulted in the creation of a new archdiocesan-wide newspaper called the North Star Catholic. It blended the best elements of the former Catholic Anchor from Anchorage and the former Inside Passage from Juneau. Likewise, a new Archdiocesan annual campaign was created called “United in Mission”, replacing the former Anchorage “One Bread, One Body” and the former Juneau “Faith in Action” campaigns.
Along similar lines, there continues to be an effort to streamline administrative operations, eliminating the need for duplication. Currently, the new archdiocese is reviewing the former policies and standards of the previous dioceses to create new ones. A number of those policies and standards have already been completed, but others are still being worked on by the chancery staff at the direction of the archbishop.
Fr. Pat shares that this is an exciting moment for the Church: “Oftentimes an issue comes up and I’m told that we’ve always done it that way. It’s at those times, we remind folks that we’ve only done it that way for the past two years, as that’s how long we’ve been in existence.”
Since joining the archdiocese more than a decade ago, Harmon has worked in various roles such as a teacher, principal, superintendent of Catholic schools, COO, and chancellor. Harmon, who retires in June, was appointed chancellor in 2017 by former Archbishop Paul Etienne, after practicing law as an in-house counsel for a Fortune 100 company. The archdiocese appreciates the service of the outgoing COO and chancellor.
“It’s been my pleasure getting to know John,” said Archbishop Bellisario. “I am grateful for his many contributions to the archdiocese and his leadership in the unification process. We thank John for sharing his time and talents with the Church, and we wish him well in retirement.”
Editor’s note: Those who are interested in learning more about the new Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau, its leadership, and other offices can find more information at the archdiocese’s website (www.AOAJ.org).