By Father Michael Kim, KMS
The North Star Catholic
Cordova is located on the shore of Orca Inlet in Prince William Sound and is the home of St. Joseph parish. The parish was established in the summer of 1908, and the first church was dedicated to St. Joseph that fall. The original church was built on a hill that became inaccessible to many parishioners in bad weather, so for many years, a Quonset hut served as the parish church. In 1963 the parish started raising funds to construct a new church, and construction began on the new building in 1964. The parish was dedicated on May 1, 1965. Today under the leadership of Father Michael Kim, KMS, the small but active parish offers faith formation for all ages and holds fundraisers for local charities.
There are 2,500 year-round residents in Cordova. The population doubles in the summer with the commercial fishing industry. Cannery workers and fishing families alike that come to Cordova for the summer take advantage of weekend Mass when they can. Every winter, the community holds the annual Iceworm Festival. It’s a way to beat the winter blues and get out and see folks. St. Joseph Parish hosts the Iceworm breakfast. Funds raised from it are used to help community members in need. For many years the teens would advertise to collect winter gear (coats, hats, etc.). St. Joseph teens have made socks and blankets for Brother Francis Shelter and Covenant House. Locally, they make cookies and deliver them to elders and the long-term care unit housed in the hospital.
During the pandemic, the gathering after Mass, where everyone could enjoy a treat and coffee, was greatly missed. Gathering downstairs after Mass was similar to the loaves and fishes in the Gospels. There was always enough food to share with friends! Another tradition that will be postponed this year is the soup and pretzel supper following Ash Wednesday evening Mass. The children come over from school and help make homemade pretzels. Families bring meatless soup and a simple meal is shared with our parish family to start the Lenten Season. Everyone looks forward to bringing back that tradition.
St. Joseph’s Church
PO Box 94, Cordova, AK 99574