Father Fred Bugarin, a long-time pastor who celebrated his 40th anniversary of priesthood for the Archdiocese of Anchorage last year, has officially retired to devote part of his time to working in his native Philippines with an environmental project called “Eco Genesis.”
Father Bugarin, an Alaskan who graduated from West High School and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Anchorage in 1975, has long bridged a cultural divide from Alaska to the land of his birth where as a boy he traveled with missionary priests to rural villages. He served in the Maryknoll associate priests’ program in the southern Philippines for eight years as a missionary.
Most of his priesthood has been spent as pastor of parishes around the archdiocese, and his assignments have often included diverse, multi-cultural parishes. He served as pastor of St. Mary Church in Kodiak, an area rich in cultural diversity with large numbers of Filipinos, and was a long-time pastor at St. Anthony Church in East Anchorage, which also boasts a diverse population. Additionally, he served as parochial associate at St. Benedict Church and as the first resident pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Wasilla.
Now, he will be part of “Eco Genesis,” a center in the Philippines for ecological concerns, healing and prayer. Eco Genesis intends to develop and maintain a model ecology-friendly farm, provide education on care of the environment, and promote healthy lifestyles using both traditional and alternative medicines.
A brochure for the project quotes heavily from Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.
“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis, which is both social and environmental,” wrote Pope Francis.
To address that complexity, Eco Genesis maintains that “healing the human person must go hand in hand with caring for the Earth and all that live in it.”
Eco Genesis is based in Isabela, the second largest province in the Philippines and the largest on the island of Luzon.
Father Bugarin received his master of arts degree in religious studies from Gonzaga University and in 2011 he earned a doctor of ministry degree from the Pacific School of Religion. During his visits back to the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Father Bugarin will continue to help out on the circuit of parishes and missions without resident priests. His retirement began Sept. 30.