By Chris Thompson, Published in the July 11, 2015 Edition of the Alaska Dispatch News (Used with the permission of the author)
- Last Friday was an unusual day in the Anchorage Archdiocese. Catholics from all over Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and across the Pacific, converged on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the local co-cathedral, to celebrate Archbishop’s Roger L. Schweitz’s 75th birthday and his 25th anniversary of elevation to the episcopate. Eleven bishops, four archbishops, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo from the Philippines, and a representative from Schwietz’s order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, were present and participated in the celebration of the Mass. Former Archbishop Francis T. Hurley, Orthodox Bishop David Mahaffey of Sitka and Alaska, and numerous parish priests rounded out the group.
- The co-cathedral was packed with celebrants and well-wishers. At the start of the service, an Alaska Native contingent went through the church fanning incense, contained in large shells, using bird wings. The long procession of clergy entered led by the Knights of Columbus. A Samoan man blew a conch shell, and a procession of Samoan men, in traditional garb, entered bearing the scripture on a raised platform. (A Samoan contingent also presented leis to the assembled clergy and draped the altar with an extremely long lei.
- A special printed program was prepared for this Mass of Thanksgiving, which contained the music and readings. The front and inside cover contained an interesting description of the archbishop’s coat of arms (tinyurl.com/pcq78a9 ). The music was heartfelt, at times spectacular. Much of the music used was taken from the Mass for Renewal composed by Curtis Stephan. Piano, organ, percussion, trumpet and choir blended harmoniously, adding great dignity and joy to the service. The singing of the “Alleluia” by the Samoan Catholic Community was beautiful. All music was linked to specific portions of the service and was done well. I particularly liked “A Prayer for Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz” performed by Kevin and Regina Barnett. In rhyming couplets it depicted various attributes of his service. For example, “A person who can hear and cure, The sighs of rich and cries of poor,” and “A spiritual man who never spares, His ministry of pastoral care.”