Our Priest

The Diocese of Fairbanks is a mission diocese, and often our parish will go months or years without a permanent parish priest. 

Currently we share a pastor with three rural parishes in Alaska,  our administrator is based out of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fairbanks.

Pastor - Fr. Tom Kuffel

  

From KNOM Radio Mission:

96.1 FM | 780 AM | “Yours for Western Alaska”

"Born and raised in Wisconsin, in a rural suburb outside Milwaukee — amid “farm fields, marsh, and many lakes,” he says — Tom graduated from high school in 1980, then studied at Gonzagaand Marquette Universities, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the latter in 1984. His first work out of school was as a teacher at the Jicarilla Indian Reservation near Dulce, New Mexico, after which he traveled to Rome, to study theology at the Angelicum: St. Thomas University in the City. A year into his studies, he decided to become a priest. Tom became FatherTom in 1989 and, after his ordination, stayed in Italy but worked in mission trips to the small Caribbean island of Grenada. It wasn’t the “tourist side of the island” that most see, Father Tom clarifies, but rather “the other side”; he worked with the “poor, homeless, and outcasts” alongside the Missionaries of Charity. In 1992, he received a Licentiate in Theology and returned stateside, beginning a 15-year tenure as a pastor for small, rural parishes — as well as a high school teacher and, eventually, a youth camp director — in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Father Tom then ventured to Alaska and served for many years in the Fairbanks area, within Alaska’s interior. He came to Nome in the early summer of 2016 and says he’s enjoying his time serving the communities of the parish — people who are “friendly and engaging” — even amid the adjustments of living in a place as isolated and as resource-limited as Western Alaska."

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Please see the attached letter from Bishop Chad regarding the transfer of Fr. Fred Bayler and the reassignment of Fr. Tom Kuffel.


Fr. Frederick Bayler


Fr. Mariusz Wirkowski from Poland was the most recent priest assigned to Healy. 

Parochial Vicar - Fr. Balaswammy Gangarapu



Father Balaswammy Gangarapu, affectionally known as Father Bala, is appointed as the Parochial Vicar of Immaculate Conception Parish, Fairbanks, Alaska, Holy Lady of Guadalupe, Healy and St. Theresa, Nenana.

An Excerpt from the Missionary Disciples, August 2018 Issue 
Faith on the Parks Highway: Road Trip with Fr. Bala
 by David Schienle

"On a sunny Saturday morning
you can find Fr. Bala driving his
car south on the Parks Highway
as he begins his weekend trip to
the parishes along the highway.
He jokes that it is not always
sunny. He still drives when
there is ice fog and -50 F below
temperatures.

While Fr. Tom Kuffel
celebrated three Masses at
Immaculate Conception Church
during the weekend, Fr. Bala
celebrated 6 pm Mass in Denali
Park on Saturday, 10 am Mass
in Healy on Sunday, and 1:30
pm Mass in Nenana on Sunday.
It made for a full weekend for Fr. Bala as he drove the 250-mile circuit. Part of Fr. Bala’s visit is to be present to the parishioners and visitors. During their visits, Fr. Tom and Fr. Bala make home visits, hear confessions, anoint the sick, and support the local community."