By Father Marino Cho, KMS
The North Star Catholic
St. Gregory Nazianzen Parish is situated in Southeast Alaska, about 98 miles south of Juneau, our state capital. However, Sitka has been established much longer and was capital of Alaska from 1867 to 1906.
In 1867, a petition signed by 120 people was sent to the Bishop of Vancouver Island, the closest diocese, to ask for a priest to celebrate Mass. During the following six years, priests came to Sitka. At that time, Masses were celebrated in an old Russian barn and then in an old Lutheran log church. In September of 1885 the archbishop bought an old Russian log house. In 1922, a church was built. This is called the “old church.” The new St. Gregory’s Church was officially dedicated and blessed by Bishop Francis Hurley on September 3, 1973. On Sunday, February 15, 2004, the old church, which is now called Ave Maria Chapel, was re-dedicated and blessed by Bishop Michael Warfel.
Sitka is the home of Mt. Edgecumbe High School, which educates youth from all rural Alaska. We at St. Gregory’s like to welcome the youth back each year with a pancake breakfast and offer our parish as a home away from home. However, this year of the pandemic has been a challenge.
For the past 15 years, we have provided a Saturday meal for those less fortunate. When we started the ministry, we served around seven people. Currently, we serve around 40 people. There are several Protestant churches that St. Gregory has partnered with to help the community. We share the love for God spoken by Jesus through Mass and prayer and the love for neighbors through our services to our community. So, when visitors visit St. Gregory Parish, they will most likely hear about the love of Jesus the parish conveys to the community.
St. Gregory Nazianzen Parish,
605 Lincoln St. P.O. Box 495, Sitka, Ak, 99835