Discover the Diocese of Fairbanks

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks (LatinDioecesis de Fairbanks) is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the northwestern United States, comprising the northern regions of the state of Alaska. It is led by a bishop which serves as pastor of the mother churchCathedral of the Sacred Heart in the City of Fairbanks. The diocese is a suffragan of theArchdiocese of Anchorage.


The See of Fairbanks was established from the Prefecture Apostolic of Alaska on July 27, 1894 which was created from the Diocese of Vancouver Island. It was elevated to an apostolic vicariate on December 22, 1916. The Diocese of Juneau was carved out of the apostolic vicariate on June 23, 1951. On August 8, 1962, the apostolic vicariate was elevated to a diocese.
The first seven bishops of Fairbanks were missionaries of the Society of Jesus. On June 7, 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed Donald Joseph Kettler as the first non-Jesuit bishop of Fairbanks.
In February 2008, the diocese announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming inability to pay the 140 plaintiffs who filed claims against the diocese for alleged sexual abuse by priests or church workers dating from the 1950s to the early 1980s. The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, was named as a co-defendant in the case, and settled for $50 million. The Diocese, which reports an operating budget of approximately $6 million, claims one of the diocese’s insurance carriers failed to "participate meaningfully".

Diocese Demographics

As of 2007, the diocese contains 47 parishes, 27 priests, providing service to 18,000 Catholics, in an area of 409,849 square miles (1,061,500 km2). It also has 20 religious sisters, 18 religious brothers.


Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz, OMI

Archbishop Schwietz was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 3, 1940. A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate since his first profession of vows on August 15, 1961, he was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on December 20, 1967. He was ordained Bishop of Duluth at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary on February 2, 1990, and assumed responsibility as Archbishop of Anchorage on March 3, 2001.
Archbishop Schwietz spent his first seven years as an OMI priest working with seminarians for the Oblates. He then served as associate pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in International Falls, Minnesota from 1975-1978. In 1978, Archbishop Schwietz was names Director of the College Seminary Program for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Six years later, in 1984, he became pastor of Holy Family Parish in Duluth, Minnesota, after which he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as the seventh Bishop of Duluth on December 12, 1989. On January 18, 2000, he was appointed the Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Anchorage and succeeded to the See on March 3, 2001.
In addition to the undergraduate degree in Philosophy, he earned an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Ottawa, and S.T.L. in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University, Chicago. Archbishop Schwietz was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree from Lewis University in 1998.
Since being named a bishop, Archbishop Schwietz has held a number of positions within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). He most recently served as Chair of one of the five "super committees" at the USCCB overseeing Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. In that role, he served as the liaison between the National Advisory Council to the United States Bishops and the USCCB.
Archbishop Schwietz holds emeritus status with the Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) movement, a program that encourages young adults to learn about and be challenged by their faith. He served, from 1991 until 2009, as the Episcopal Moderator for TEC. Over the years he has witnessed lives changed and vocations develop as a result of the three day TEC weekend.
In his free time, Archbishop Schwietz takes full advantage of the unique opportunities to experience nature that life in Alaska offers. He cross country skis in the winter and fills his freezer in the summer and fall by fishing and occasionally hunting.
On September 20, 2013, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Schwietz as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Fairbanks until a new bishop is selected for the diocese.

Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks Mission Statement

We are people of God in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks. Blessed with a rich variety of backgrounds and talents, we strive to be a living reflection of the Universal Church.

Through our baptism, we continue Christ's mission to further the kingdom of God through the human family. We share our living faith by proclaiming the Gospel in word and example. Together we celebrate Christ's presence in worship and sacraments.

In a spirit of justice, mercy and love, we dedicate ourselves not only to minister to the people in the urban and rural areas of our Diocese, but also to minister to the world community.

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