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Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks welcomes two new priests

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:04 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - CORRECTION: Father Oprych will be stationed at Sacred Heart Cathedral and Saint Raphael Church in Fairbanks, and Father Wojcik will serve at Saint Nicholas Church in North Pole.

ORIGINAL STORY:

In an ceremony on Wednesday, January 12, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks ordained two new priests in front of a congregation.

This is the first time the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks has seen a new addition in years, according to Father Robert Fath, Vicar General and Vocations Director. “The last time we had a priestly ordination was about 10 years ago, so this a big deal for our diocese, and this is the first time in the history of the diocese that we’ve ordained two men to the priesthood at the same time.”

The Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks covers more area than the entire state of Texas, over 400 thousand square miles.

Taking up most of the state of Alaska, 22 priests practice their faith in communities from the Bering Sea to the Canadian border. “Of the 46 parishes, we have 8 that are on the road system. The rest are out in Yup’ik Eskimo and Athabascan Indian villages,” said Father Fath.

The two new priests, Father Piotr Oprych and Father Dominik Wojcik, have come to Alaska from Poland.

According to Father Fath, Fairbanks is one of the last Mission Diocese in the U.S., with a majority of the priests coming in from outside of the country. “Currently, we have men serving from Poland, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and India here in the Diocese of Fairbanks,” he said.

Their ordination ceremony took place at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Fairbanks. “As Catholics, we believe that at the time of ordination, there’s what we call an ontological change. There’s a mark that’s laid on the soul of the man being ordained, that he’s a priest forever. He serves in the person of Christ at the alter, bringing God’s mercy and love to the people of God,” Father Fath explained

After being ordained by Bishop Chad Zielinski and joining their peers from around the state, the two greeted the community.

Father Wojcik will be stationed at Sacred Heart and Saint Raphael Church in Fairbanks, and Father Oprych will serve at Saint Nicholas Church in North Pole.

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