Archbishop Hurley marks six decades as a priest
By JOEL DAVIDSON
Anchorage Archbishop Emeritus Francis Hurley marked his 60th anniversary as a priest on June 16. Ordained in 1951, the 84-year-old archbishop has now served in the priesthood for six decades, including 41 years as a bishop.
On the day of his anniversary, Archbishop Hurley was in Seattle for the recent meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. On June 26, however, Archbishop Hurley will celebrate Mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, which will be followed by a reception to mark his milestone.
Parishes across the Anchorage Archdiocese also remembered Archbishop Hurley in the prayers of the faithful offered at Sunday Masses.
Archbishop Hurley’s vocation to the priesthood was discerned early. Fresh out of eighth grade, he enrolled in seminary and was ordained a priest for the San Francisco Archdiocese in 1951. His oldest brother did the same several years before him.
“In Irish families, it was one of the hopes that one of the boys would become a priest,” Archbishop Hurley told the Catholic Anchor in an interview last year. “It was not unusual for me to go to the seminary out of the eighth grade. But as you get older and look at what the priesthood is all about, you see that the priesthood is an invitation of the Lord. I was called to do this.”
In 1957, he began work at what would later become the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A year later, he was appointed associate general secretary — the second highest-ranking staffer for the U.S. bishops’ conference. It was an influential post that he held for 12 years.
In 1970, the 43-year-old Father Hurley was ordained a bishop by his brother, Bishop Mark J. Hurley, then head of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Calif. It was the only time that had occurred in the United States. Until Bishop Mark Hurley’s death in 2001, the Hurley brothers had been one of nine bishop-brother pairs in all of U.S. church history.
The newly ordained Bishop Hurley was assigned to the Juneau Diocese where he served from 1970-76. While there, he co-founded Alaska Housing Development Corp. and Catholic Community Service, the diocese’s social service agency.
In 1976, he was named Archbishop of Anchorage, where he served for 25 years until his retirement in 2001.
During that time, he worked to establish and expand social service programs across the Anchorage Archdiocese and helped found the Catholic Social Services’ respite program, Brother Francis shelters in Anchorage and Kodiak, McAuley Manor, Clare House and other programs to help those in need — Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
When Pope John Paul II visited Anchorage in 1981, Archbishop Hurley helped facilitate a series of events that welcomed the entire state to participate in the papal activities.
In 1991, Archbishop Hurley took the extraordinary step of founding a mission, Church of the Nativity, in Magadan — a former Soviet work camp in Russia’s Far East. The goal was to attend to the pastoral needs of Catholics and other Christians in one of Russia’s most remote areas.
In 1997, Archbishop Hurley was honored as Alaskan of the Year, the first religious leader to have received the award in its 30-year history.
Since retiring, Archbishop Hurley’s schedule has scaled back a bit. He still sits on the Alaska Conference of Catholic Bishops and participates in the annual meetings of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Messages can be sent to Archbishop Hurley at The Pastoral Center, 225 Cordova Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501.
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Congratulations from Florida!