Museum event to celebrate history of Anchorage Archdiocese

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In a year of celebrations marking the Catholic Church’s historic and ongoing presence in Southcentral Alaska, one upcoming event will be filled with stories from the early days.

Initially given the working title “A Night at the Museum” by the committee planning it, the evening has a more formal title now: “Freezing Faithful: Our Stories” with the subtitle: “A centennial history of the Catholic Church in Southcentral and Western Alaska through storytelling and images.”

The event is part of the ongoing “Season of Blessings” in which the Archdiocese of Anchorage is celebrating key milestones of the Catholic faith in Southcentral Alaska.

Earlier this year the archdiocese marked Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz’s 25th anniversary as a bishop. Throughout the past year Holy Family Cathedral has been celebrating its 100th anniversary as a parish. Next year the archdiocese will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the archdiocese and of Catholic Social Services.

The upcoming museum event will be held Oct. 29 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. It will feature short oral history vignettes presented by people who lived through some of the archdiocese’s early days. Tales of what is was like to settle Anchorage, build churches and follow vocations to the priesthood will all be part of the evening’s stories.

In addition to personal memories, a more formal history will be presented in a photo montage and commentary about the archdiocese’s history.

A few photos date back to early missionary days before the archdiocese was formally recognized. Adrian Dominican Sister Patricia Magee and Dominican Associate Brenda Stratton recently recovered many of these images in a reorganization of the archdiocesan archives. Some of the photos were very fragile, but well over 5,000 of them have been scanned and chronicled. Some of them will be in the montage and many will be exhibited at the event.

A team of longtime Alaskan priests — Father Richard Tero, Father Dan Hebert, and Father Fred Bugarin — has helped identify some of the people in the pictures. But helping with identification is an added reason to attend, said Kenny Gerling of the Office of Stewardship and Development who is helping to plan the event.

“We’re hoping some of the people attending will be able to add to our knowledge of the pictures,” he said.

Along with refreshments and time to connect with other members of the community, the evening will debut the cover design for the soon-to-be released history of the archdiocese. If all goes according to schedule, this book, to be published through Aftershocks, a self-publishing arm of Epicenter Press, will be available in a hardcover edition at a February event. A paperback edition will be available later.

The October 29th event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the presentation slated for 7-8:30 p.m. For information call Kenny Gerling at 297-7790.


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