By Cece Lihou
The North Star Catholic
There has been a continuous worshiping presence on the same block of Fifth Street in Juneau since 1885 when Fr. John Althoff built the first Catholic Church in the capital city. The Sisters of St. Ann arrived shortly after that, establishing a hospital and school. The present church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was completed in 1910, under the leadership of Fr. Edward Brown, S.J.
The church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was designated a Cathedral in 1951 when Pope Pius XII established the Diocese of Juneau, the first Catholic Diocese in Alaska.
The Co-Cathedral is in the heart of downtown Juneau. We are a welcoming and vibrant worship community in an urban area serving all people from diverse backgrounds. It is within walking distance of the state Capitol building and near the cruise ship docks that bring over one million visitors each year. Many make a point of visiting our church and comment on its architectural beauty and the beautiful stained-glass windows designed by our own Deacon Charles Rohrbacher.
We are now experiencing a deteriorating church facility. Time and a rainforest climate have taken a toll on the structure. The building’s design makes it virtually inaccessible to persons with certain disabilities, and rotting wood and a crumbling foundation have made renovation essential. We have begun a fund drive within the parish, and the local Knights of Columbus have been very generous in sponsoring fundraisers and making donations.
The Co-Cathedral is an established Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) parish, recognized by the National Association.
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is for children ages three through 12. This formation method was the collaborative work of Sophia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi in Rome, Italy, in 1954. It has since spread to over 65 countries around the world. In the Atrium, children and adults alike are welcomed to journey together in the full enjoyment of God. The Co-Cathedral is very blessed with a wonderful group of volunteers that keep our programs running. Considering our current virus mitigation plan, we are running on a smaller scale. We pray that we can all be together again soon.
Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 416 Fifth Street, Juneau, AK 99801, juneaucathedral.org and on Facebook at facebook.com/JuneauCathedral/.