|Fr Oscar Capilla, LC, enjoying a real winter.|
February 22, 2011. Anchorage, AK. As if winter in New
England weren’t enough… Fr Oscar Capilla, LC, headed north to
Anchorage, Alaska from February 1 - 16 at the invitation
of some Regnum Christi members he had met the year
before at Camp Kodiak, a yearly boys’ camp held in
Since there are only a handful of Regnum Christi members
in Alaska, he also put himself at the service of
the local diocese by preaching retreats and spiritual exercises, and
offering the sacraments and spiritual direction.
Fr Oscar started out
by meeting with the archbishop of Anchorage, Archbishop Roger Schwietz,
and the local clergy. He was given a warm welcome,
especially since Anchorage has a shortage of priests—Florida is a
much more popular assignment at this time of year.
with the Regnum Christi members in the city, he preached
open spiritual exercises for women over one weekend and for
men the next. He preached a parish mission at St.
Patrick’s Church in Anchorage, a retreat to high school students
at Holy Rosary Academy, and a full-day retreat to a
contemplative order of nuns, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
There are only three nuns in this particular convent, and
all of them happen to be Mexican, so Fr Oscar
was able to give the retreat in Spanish. The small
number of nuns was due not to the order, but
the location. Once again, Anchorage is not a popular place
to be stationed.
|Fr Oscar preaches a retreat to high school students at Holy Rosary Academy.|
“It was a very pastoral experience,” he said,
referring to the entire two-week period, “and it was an
opportunity to provide something for the parish. All of the
activities I did were advertised on the diocesan web site
and on church bulletins. The retreats were open to everyone,
and I tried to make it an opportunity to serve
He went on to observe that Alaska’s two dioceses,
Anchorage and Fairbanks, are actually considered mission dioceses. And that
fresh, missionary spirit is evident in the people.
“You can see
it in the people,” he said. “Even though only 8%
of Alaskans are Catholic, there is a sense of Christian
community. There is a great attitude of enthusiasm and missionary
|Camping in tents at 16 below, miles from civilization.|
spirit. I would see more people at weekday Mass than
The trip also had another surprise in store
for Fr Oscar: a 3-day camping trip near Denali National
Park, near Mount McKinley. The men had decided that Fr
Oscar needed to get a taste of Alaska at its
wildest and best, so they set out on snowmobiles, making
a 170-mile round trip to a remote cabin. Along the
way, they also stayed in tents, braving -16° weather.
me, it was something new; it was exciting. It’s one
of those experiences you’ve never had before. You feel miserable,
but you like the challenge,” he said.
While on their trip,
the men decided that next year, when Fr Oscar returns,
they can get a group of at least ten men
together to have a retreat at that remote cabin, totally
disconnected from the world. It will be a retreat worthy
of John the Baptist, albeit with a different kind of
Looking back on his past trip and ahead to the
next one, Fr Oscar observed, “The Scottish-born American naturalist John
Muir once said: To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is
one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”
Holy Spirit sure is good at doing great things in