Church History

Healy was formerly an Alaska Railroad station called Healy Forks and now is home to the Usibelli Coal Mine. It is conveniently located adjacent to Denali National Park and along the Parks Highway, the main road between Fairbanks and Anchorage.

Originally, the Catholics of Healy were served by visiting priests from Nenana and Fairbanks. Around 1980, the Diocese of Fairbanks Building Committee, headed by Bishop Robert Whelan, S.J., decided that a new church with pastor's headquarters and attached parish hall should be built at Healy. Fr. Paul Mueller, S.J., was put in charge of building and financing the project. He received generous donations from the Catholic Extension Society and from the Jesuit Mission Associates.

With the help of volunteers, Fr. Mueller built the church complex which was completed in 1982. Some of the volunteers who helped in construction were two of his nephews, Anthony Mueller then 24, and his brother Paul, 20 years old, of Waldport, Oregon. The two men were both skilled carpenters. The church was designed by Mr. Ron Kunkel, a former Jesuit Volunteer, with the idea that it would serve as space for fellowship and worship. A newly constructed rectory is located next to the church.

The Parish was at first informally called Our Lady of the Mountain. However, in 1980, the name was changed to Holy Mary of Guadalupe. Fr. Mueller dedicated the church to Holy Mary so that a promise would be fulfilled after he visited the Shrine to Holy Mary of Guadalupe in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Read About La Virgen de Guadalupe)

Some of the priests who have served Healy and other small communities along the "rail belt" like Cantwell, Anderson, Denali National Park (summers) as well as Clear Airforce Base were: diocesan priests Frs. Robert Dunn, John Hinsvark, Al Levitre Jack de Verteuil, Patrick Bergquist, Mariusz Wirkowski, and Fredrick Bayler. Before Diocesan priests arrived in Healy, many Jesuit priests, too numerous to be mentioned here, also ministered to Healy and surrounding Catholic communities. Currently, Fr. Tom Kuffel, pastor at Immaculate Conception Church 110 miles north in Fairbanks, serves as administrator of the Healy parish.