Fairbanks to share bishop with Southeast for now

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Catholics in the Fairbanks Diocese will share Southeast Alaska's bishop, the Most Rev. Michael W. Warfel, until a new bishop is appointed.

Warfel, bishop of the Diocese of Juneau, has been appointed interim apostolic administrator of the Fairbanks diocese by the Vatican.

The Rev. Richard D. Case has been overseeing the Fairbanks Diocese for the past 14 months, since the death of Fairbanks Bishop Michael Kaniecki in August 2000. Case will continue working as the bishop's assistant and will resume some of his former pastoral duties.

Warfel commended Case for overseeing diocesan affairs to date.

''He'll be a real benefit for the Diocese of Fairbanks. There are five parishes who have just lost their priests,'' Warfel said.

Warfel said Tuesday he does not know when Fairbanks will get a new, permanent bishop.

The bishop and Case spent Tuesday afternoon forging a calendar of important occasions and events for the two dioceses and working on a communications plan.

''I'll be trying to come up to Fairbanks on at least a monthly basis,'' Warfel said. ''We've also set up a regular conference call every Wednesday.''

Accustomed to a large amount of rain in Southeast Alaska, Warfel said he is looking forward to enjoying the Interior's snow. He said he plans to return with his cross country skis and tour the local trails.

The Juneau diocese includes approximately 6,000 parishioners among 10 parishes and about a dozen mission congregations.

With the Fairbanks diocese, Warfel will have the added responsibility for approximately 17,000 people scattered among 48 communities.

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