By Dominique Johnson
The North Star Catholic
Father Dick Tero has ministered as a priest to the people of Alaska for the last 46 years. He was ordained June 4, 1974, as a priest for the Archdiocese of Anchorage by Archbishop Joseph Ryan.
Father Tero was inspired to seek a vocation in the priesthood at a young age, growing up in Massachusetts. “I had grown up in a Catholic family in New England and my brother was special needs,” and “I saw the love the nuns and the priests gave him,” he said. That image of service and the love of Christ always stayed with Father Tero.
After college he enlisted in the Air Force in 1966, which eventually brought him to Alaska, where he served at Eielson Air Force Base from 1969-1970. During his time of service in Fairbanks, he spent a lot of time outdoors exploring with fellow servicemen, and “I just fell in love with Alaska,” Father Tero said.
With his four years of service about to be complete, Father Tero decided to meet with Archbishop Ryan in Anchorage about becoming a priest. “I had it in the back of my mind that if things worked out, I would at least try the seminary,” he said. Father Tero joked that “there was no sword from the sky,” but he always felt that God was calling him to be a priest.
Father Tero only met with Archbishop Ryan initially for 20 minutes before deciding to become a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Anchorage. Father Tero said that he arrived at the meeting in his military uniform. Archbishop Ryan, having a military background, felt that Father Tero would be a good fit for the archdiocese.
When asked about the highlights of his ministry over the years in Southcentral Alaska, Father Tero mentioned the time he spent as the director of St. Theresa’s Camp in Soldotna when he was in seminary, his time as pastor at St. Mary’s in Kodiak and serving the school with the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart and serving in Soldotna where he was involved in the building of the new church in 1995.
Though he has been retired for eight years, Father Tero continues to serve as a priest at Sacred Heart parish in Seward. “I love Seward,” he said, and he plans to continue to serve the people of the parish and Alaska as long as he can.