By Father Leo Walsh
The North Star Catholic
In 1971, Archbishop Ryan recognized a need for a new parish to serve the Catholic faithful on the east side of Anchorage. Without a facility, parishioners of St. Anthony Church came together to form this new parish community.
The fledgling community met for several years in the gym at Chester Valley Elementary School and was affectionately known as St. Chester’s of the Valley.
Later, a modest basement church was built on the property. In 1978, the parish paid for a new multipurpose building with a statewide raffle known as “The Great Alaska Pipeline Classic,” where people bought chances on the day, time and minute that the first barrel of oil would arrive in the Valdez Terminal. The community continued to thrive and the present church, which seats 535 people, was dedicated on May 5, 1995. In 2012, the two main parts of the campus were connected with a beautiful courtyard known as the Cloister, which features a columbarium cemetery and world class statuary by sculptor Roberto Santo.
As a vital part of the local community, each year the parish serves as a distribution center for the Thanksgiving Blessing, serving Thanksgiving meals to over 1400 local families. It is an endeavor requiring battalion level logistics.
The Deacon’s Fund Outreach also helps those in need with utility assistance and other vital services. The parish is known for its raucous musical revues on Oktoberfest and St. Patrick’s Day, brought to you by C.H.A.O.S., “The Committee for Hosting Alaska’s Outrageous Spectaculars.”
During the pandemic, the parish continues to reach out with livestreamed and “parking lot” liturgies broadcasting on Facebook Live and on a low wattage FM transmitter. A lot of parish activity happens in the “Upper Zoom” these days. We look forward to the day we can gather in great numbers once again.
On October 4th of this year, St. Patrick’s will celebrate its 50th anniversary, hopefully in our customary style.
St. Patrick’s Parish
2111 Muldoon Road
Anchorage, AK 99504
Fr. Leo’s Benevolent Blog: www.frleowalsh.com