Parish profile: St. Bernard of Menthon, Talkeetna

By Renamary Rauchenstein
The North Star Catholic

St. Bernard of Menthon Parish is in Talkeetna, on the parks highway north of Anchorage and Wasilla. The parish consists of St. Bernard in Talkeetna and its mission church, St. Philip, in Trapper Creek. St. Bernard was built in 1969. Our congregation has about 25 families in each church, and in the summer, we welcome and are outnumbered by the 250,000 visitors who want to climb or fly around Mt. Denali and visit our iconic little town.

Fr. Joseph Mc Gilloway, pastor at Sacred Heart in Wasilla, oversees the ministries at the parish. The parish has priests or deacons who come about twice a month and a lay presider for our Word and Communion Service the rest of the time. We have never stopped longing for a priest in residence. However, that is not to say that we have not been blessed.

Volunteers have been called to use their God given gifts to help this parish thrive. The archdiocese has been faithful to send us priests to say Mass as much as possible. Our visiting priests come from all over the world and have given us a real glimpse and understanding of the universal church.

Twenty-five years ago, we formulated our mission statement, “Feed My Lambs and Tend My Sheep,” as outreach has always been important to our whole congregation. We have dedicated a large percentage of our income, time, and talents to it.

Our parish started a branch of the food bank in Talkeetna, began an ecumenical Thanksgiving worship service with four of the churches in the area, celebrate a Seder Meal during Holy Week, organize a Bean-a-fit annually for Bean’s Cafe, have an annual Christmas Bazaar with all the proceeds going to charities here and in Anchorage, and we have a Christmas Family program annually that involves four of the local churches buying gifts for kids. All of these events have been going on for over 25 years.

God continues to bless us and, with His guidance, enables us to bless others. Come for a visit; we would love to tell you, “Welcome to St. Bernard.”

St. Bernard Catholic Church, 22136 South F. Street P.O. Box 510 Talkeetna, Alaska 99676


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