After 38 years working for the Anchorage Archdiocese, Vice Chancellor Eileen Kramer officially stepped down Aug. 31.
Fondly known as “The Relic,” the much respected and devoted Kramer’s career spanned all three archbishops of Anchorage — Archbishop Joseph Ryan, Archbishop Francis Hurley and current Archbishop Roger Schwietz, who is slated to retire on Nov. 9 when Wyoming Bishop Paul Etienne takes over as the fourth archbishop of Anchorage.
“Having already ‘trained’ three archbishops, Eileen will leave the task of transitioning my successor to another,” Archbishop Schwietz said in a statement announcing Kramer’s pending retirement earlier this summer.
A few days before her retirement, Kramer sent a message to archdiocesan staff, clergy and others thanking them for enriching her nearly four-decade career.
“My time has come to say goodbye — after almost 38 years here at the archdiocese I am saying goodbye to the folks I call my family,” she said. “Words cannot express how much you all mean to me — archbishop, priests, deacons, sisters, and the members of the pastoral office and all the folks that make up parishes. God bless you all and thanks. Please keep me and my family in your prayers. Eileen (The Relic)”
In a phone interview with the Catholic Anchor she said her career with the archdiocese was a joy.
“I want to thank everybody for their thoughtfulness, their generosity and all the support that they’ve given me over the years,” she said. “I loved every minute of it. The blessings that I have received — I can’t express it strong enough.”
As for working for the only three archbishops to ever serve the archdiocese, Kramer said it was “a real educational experience.”
“They all had different personalities and different ways of doing things, but they all made it a priority to be there for the people of this archdiocese in their needs,” she added. “I know they were always there for me when I needed it most.”
With an institutional memory of the archdiocese, Kramer has been a valuable resource during through the years. One of her key tasks was to ensure that remote parishes without resident priests were able to access the Eucharist and other sacraments. Kramer scheduled visiting and local priests to serve these parishes, especially during key liturgical seasons such as Christmas and Easter. In 2012 she received the St. Francis of Assisi award for her service to the church in Alaska.
“Eileen’s dedication and service to the church have been legendary,” Archbishop Schwietz said. “We are indebted to her service — and richer for her friendship.”
He offered “blessings and fervent prayers for an enjoyable and peace-filled retirement.”
On Kramer’s last official day, archdiocesan staff and others joined her for a noon Mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage. Celebrated by Archbishop Roger Schwietz — joined by six priests, three deacons and a seminarian — the Mass was followed with a reception in Kramer’s honor.
“Once again, we want to thank Eileen for her many years of service,” Archbishop Schwietz said at the close of Mass. “May God bless her.”