Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage will welcome two new Dominican priests this summer, including a new pastor as retiring Dominican Father Anthony Patalano steps down to take a part-time assignment in Los Angeles.
Father Patalano announced the changes last month in the parish newsletter Glad Tidings.
“I am pleased to announce the arrival this summer of your new pastor, Father Steven Maekawa, OP, and Parochial Vicar Father Christopher Brannan, OP,” he said, noting that the “Dominicans are an itinerant order. Unlike diocesan priests, we serve and move on, but not without sadness. It’s how Saint Dominic wanted it.”
Father Patalano, who turns 72 in July, will formally retire and serve as resident chaplain for a group of cloistered nuns in West Los Angeles. His main duty will be to celebrate daily Mass.
In regards to his upcoming move out of Alaska, Father Patalano had a mixed assessment.
“I’m a California boy, so I’m not used to snow — but I adapted to it,” he said. He noted that his greatest joy, however, was being with the Alaskan faithful. “I enjoyed the people in the cathedral,” he said.
Upon his departure Father Patalano will have served three separate stints at Holy Family: twice in the 1980s and most recently from 2011 to the present. During his latest assignment he oversaw extensive renovations to the downtown cathedral, including the installation of six 125-year-old stained glass windows, refurbished Stations of the Cross, new interior painting, enhanced lighting and new carpeting.
Parishioners expressed gratitude for the renovations, he said, specifically because they have enhanced the sacred feel of the parish.
“I’m hoping that will be a very significant appetizer to do more in the future,” he added.
Father Patalano’s replacement, Father Maekawa, is a cradle Catholic from Seattle. He met Dominican friars while studying architecture at the University of Washington and entered the order after graduating in 1990. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1998 and served at St. Dominic Church in San Francisco and at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also served as a reserve military chaplain with both the U.S. Marines and the Navy. In 2004 he deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. After returning to the United States, he was appointed vocations director for the entire Western Dominican Province. Most recently he was elected prior and superior of the parish community at St. Dominic’s in San Francisco. His new assignment in Anchorage will likely be for three years, possibly six.
Joining Father Maekawa will be newly ordained Father Christopher Brannan, from Clovis, Calif. He earned a bachelor’s in computer science from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo in 2001, and a master’s in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2009. He made his first profession in September 2010 and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Dominic’s in San Francisco on May 28.
The two incoming friars will join Father Dominic David Maichrowicz and Father Mark Francis Manzano, bringing the Anchorage community to four priests.
Dominicans have served at Holy Family Cathedral for more than four decades. It’s a mission that has shaped Catholicism in Alaska and one that continues to impact the city of Anchorage.
“It’s a great assignment,” Father Patalano told the Catholic Anchor two years ago on the 40th anniversary of the Dominicans arrival at Holy Family. “The people are wonderful.”
Through the decades Dominicans have provided exceptional educational opportunities for Anchorage Catholics, offering public presentations on issues of Catholic faith, celebrating Masses at area Catholic schools and often giving talks to young adults during Theology & Brew events.