The Anchorage Archdiocese has connections to one of the newly appointed cardinals chosen by Pope Francis last month.
Nearly 10 years ago, Cardinal-elect Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, Philippines, entered into a Global Solidarity Partnership with Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz. The 2004 agreement provides mutual support between the sister archdioceses. Delegations consisting of Archbishop Schwietz and other Catholics from Alaska have made multiple trips to the Philippines to solidify the partnership. Likewise Cardinal-elect Quevedo and representatives from Cotabato have also visited Alaska several times since 2005.
The Archdiocese of Anchorage has provided prayers and financial support to Cotabato over the years as the Philippines has suffered from flooding, political unrest and most recently the devastating typhoon.
Launched Nov. 6, 2004, the Global Solidarity Partnership is sponsored by Catholic Relief Services and aims to link U.S. Catholics with people the relief organization serves in other countries.
As part of the program the Cotabato Archdiocese has sent several priests to minister in Alaska over the years. Father Ben Torreto returned to the Philippines in 2012 after serving parishes throughout the Anchorage Archdiocese. Filipino priests Father Jaime Mencias and Father Dadz Esguerra are currently serving in Alaska from Cotabato.
Cardinal-elect Quevedo views the partnership as a way for the Philippines to help revive Christian faith in the West.
During a 2009 trip to Anchorage, Cardinal-elect Quevedo spoke with the Catholic Anchor, noting that in centuries past, the churches in the West sent out legions of missionaries around the world building schools and churches as Christian faith was woven into the fabric of much of the world. Now, as the West faces declining numbers of priests and religious — as it struggles to keep open schools and parishes — the Global South is sending back missionaries to their mother churches, he observed.
“Yes, the daughter churches as it were are going back to the mother churches to tell them what faith was a long time ago,” he said.
Archbishop Quevedo noted that part of this mission is played out in Alaska as Cotabato clergy minister and provide the sacraments for parishes that otherwise would likely miss the regular presence of a priest.
Archbishop Quevedo explained: “Our two priests have a sense of being missionaries here because of the distances. It is not like this in the Philippines where churches are full every Sunday and there are twelve masses every Sunday. Here, it is not like that at all. Here you go out and visit small missions to celebrate Mass with maybe only a few people.”
Cardinal-elect Quevedo will receive the cardinal’s red hat during a ceremony at the Vatican on Feb. 22. At age 74, he will be eligible to vote for the next pope until he turns 80.