By Deacon Vince Hansen
The North Star Catholic
A former mission served by the priests assigned to Skagway, the Southeast Alaska community of Haines saw its first Sacred Heart Church constructed in 1920. The mission’s history pre-dates the “old church,” with the first documented baptism taking place in 1905 at Fort Seward. The original church was constructed with the help of two $500 grants provided by the Catholic Extension Society.
Sacred Heart received its first resident pastor, Father Edward T. McHugh, OMI, in 1975. The current church building was constructed in 1983 by volunteers and with donations from Catholic Extension Society, De Lasalle Christian Brothers, Father James Ryan and Pete Andriesen.
Since 2011 Father Perry Kenaston has served as Pastor of Sacred Heart in Haines.
Today, Haines has the highest median age in Alaska. Although this is reflected in the congregation at Sacred Heart, the parish also has a few young families that bring it much life. With the help of the families themselves, children learn about their faith and participate in special Masses. Weekly adult education sessions are offered throughout the year. Community is maintained and guests are welcomed with food and fellowship after every Sunday Mass. Many parishioners have roles in keeping the buildings and grounds maintained and the other functions of keeping the Church operating. An active women’s group puts the whole parish to work operating a hamburger booth at the Southeast State Fair every year. The proceeds are used for various Church needs, retreats, World Youth Day participation, as well as helping the food bank, ministerial association and other community needs.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 3rd Ave. & Dalton St., Haines, AK 99827 and www.sacredhearthaines.org/home