Indigenous people in Juneau gather for first Catholic Native ministry meeting in years

The Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau hosted the first Native ministry meeting in Juneau in years in mid-October.

The last time a Native ministry group met in Alaska’s capital was before the departure of Bishop Edward Burns, from the former Diocese of Juneau, in 2017, said Sister Frances “Sr. Frances” Vista, D.C., director of Catholic Native ministry for the archdiocese.

The hour-and-a-half-long meeting, which was considered a “meet and greet,” took place at the Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s parish hall on Sunday, Oct. 16. Sr. Frances led the meeting after an introduction and welcome from Deacon Charles Rohrbacher and his wife, Paula. Deacon Rohrbacher serves at the Co-Cathedral.

“This is the first meeting I had with them,” Sr. Frances said. “The meeting went well considering these women have not met before. One or two of them may know of each other but that’s it.”

People affiliated with the Co-Cathedral and St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Juneau attended. The group shared stories about the villages they were originally from. They also took turns sharing details about their families and explaining their own experiences of faith throughout their lifetimes.

“Most of these indigenous women’s experiences have a lot of similarities, especially being Catholic and indigenous,” Sr. Frances said. “Telling their stories and being heard makes a difference in their faith journey.”

The group has not made any definite plans for the future, Sr. Frances said, but they intend to meet as a group through Zoom in November. And depending on the group’s involvement, Sr. Frances said a second in-person meeting will be scheduled for December.

To get involved in the next Native ministry meeting for Juneau parishioners or to learn more details about the archdiocese’s Native ministry department, contact Sr. Frances through email at


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