St. Andrew Day Alaska Earthquake Recovery Fund

$8,611 of $650,000 goal

Raised by 66 people in 6 months
Created December 18, 2018

At 8:29am on Friday, November 30, 2018, The Feast Day of St. Andrew, a 7.0 earthquake rocked Southcentral Alaska. Our town of Eagle River was hardest hit, being just ten miles from the epicenter. St. Andrew Catholic Church in Eagle River, the parish home to over 1,000 families, suffered the most severe and extensive damage of any Catholic Church in the greater Anchorage area. Chandeliers crashed to the floor, statues smashed, stained glass shattered, whole pieces of sheetrock cracked and fell, furnace boiler pipes separated, spewing glycol all over the floor, the roof drain pulled away from the wall, causing “rain” and water damage in the office area, and a ¾” crack opened up the floor in front of the sanctuary, running across the entire nave of the church. It does not seem coincidental that this quake occurred on our patronal feast day, the feast of St Andrew the Apostle. As Archbishop of Anchorage, the Most Reverend Paul Etienne, said two days later when he celebrating mass for our community, “It seems providential that St. Andrew Catholic Church would bear the brunt of the earthquake on his patronal feast day.”

Despite substantial damage to our beautiful church building, the church’s structural engineer determined that the structure was still safe to occupy, so we continued with our St. Andrew’s Day Mass that evening.  However, we were forced to move to the narthex due to the debris from fallen chandelier lights, broken stained glass and statues, and pieces of drywall littering the nave.  It was a beautiful Mass, held by candle light as the electricity was out following the quake with people wearing their winter jackets because the furnace was not yet working. We had much to give thanks to God for as there were no fatalities or major injuries resulting from this dramatic earthquake.

We are still assessing the damages; however, it appears that the repair costs will exceed our insurance deductible of about $650,000.  We are asking for assistance so that we can repair our beautiful church, that was completed just 12 years ago.


About our Parish

The current St. Andrew church building was dedicated in 2006 by the Most Reverend Roger L. Schwietz, OMI, the Archbishop of Anchorage at that time. The previous church building, about a half a mile from the present church, was hand built in 1981 by the people of the parish.  That church served the parish well and the parish community continued to grow and flourish.  After over 20 years the parish outgrew the building, such that by 2003, five Masses were celebrated each weekend to accommodate the community.  It was a difficult decision for many to leave the beloved structure, which held many wonderful memories, but eventually  the decision was made to build a larger church on twelve acres of nearby property that had been donated to the Archdiocese.  The location of the donated property was on a prominent hill next to a major highway where it could be seen by people driving by.   The building committee was established with the goal to build a beautiful church that was modern yet retained traditional elements. The result was a stunning church.

Construction of the new church began in early 2005, - just prior to the destructive Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast that August.  Katrina’s wake of destruction and heartache was felt throughout the nation, clear to Alaska.  The new St. Andrew church construction project experienced an unanticipated impact from the hurricane as material costs for the new church soared due to demands for steel, drywall and other construction commodities throughout the Gulf Coast.  Despite putting on hold our original plan for a parish hall, classrooms, kitchen and other important, but not vital elements, the inflated construction costs  resulted in a much larger debt than we had originally intended. However, through the dedication and generosity of our parishioners and the Archdiocese of Anchorage – and this cannot be over stated –  we  have been diligent in paying down our debt from just over $12 million eleven years ago to under $5 million today.

 And then there was an Earthquake

And then on November 30th, 2018, at 8:29 in the morning, the earth shook and caused significant damage to our beautiful church.  Since it occurred on the feast of our patron saint, Saint Andrew, we had decided not to hold our normally scheduled 9:00am morning Mass and had been encouraging our community to attend our Solemnity at 7:00 pm.  If normal morning Mass had not been cancelled, many more people would have been in the church preparing, greatly increasing the possibility of injury or worse.  The Holy Spirit works in amazing ways even in scheduling matters!

  The following morning,  Saturday December 1st, over a hundred parishioners came to clean up the  church and make it safe so that we  could have our normal weekend Mass schedule. The electricity had been restored by the end of the evening on the day of the earthquake, and through the dedication and experience of an excellent plumber; our heating system was repaired just as the Saturday Vigil Mass was concluding, about 22[1]  hours after the earthquake hit. 

However, as we continue restoring order and estimating damages, it has become clear that we are facing a great financial challenge. In addition to our construction debt, we now face hundreds of thousands, and perhaps as much as a million dollars, in damages to repair. We are still working with our insurance company and estimators to determine exact amounts, but despite having earthquake insurance, the deductible, will be about $650,000.   I will keep this site updated as more specific amounts come to me.

In conclusion, I am asking for your prayers for our parish community as we face this challenge, that we may have renewed trust in God to provide for us, continued perseverance in faith, and a renewed commitment to our mission to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  I would also ask you to prayerfully consider if you are able to help us financially with these unforeseen costs for repairs to our beautiful church. Any amount would be helpful and greatly appreciated.

In Christ,

Fr. Arthur Roraff
Parochial Administrator
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Now that the after shocks have become less frequent and break up is revealing what winter hid, we are beginning the restoration. We will begin working on the interior after the exterior. Thank you to all who have helped with prayers, financial help and services and in all other ways. - Fr Arthur
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We created a working “Restoration” committee to plan and oversee the repairs. As a group, we decided to wait to begin major repairs until after Easter. This will give the ground a chance to stop moving and also allow us to identify any “spring thaw” issues. It will also allow us to focus on fundraising. In the meantime, we will work on getting quotes for the expenses.

The contributions from both inside and outside of our parish have been overwhelming. To date we have received almost $100,000.
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Attached are some pictures from before Christmas. Kuchar Construction removed the dangerous sheet rock as well as took down the boxes covering the speakers and broken chandeliers. As an unexpected result, our acoustics are greatly improved.

Even though she was late, our replacement Mary statue showed up in time for the feast of the Holy Family. The original statue was destroyed in the earthquake.

We will begin meeting this week to prioritize our reconstruction going forth.

Thank you again for all your contributions and prayers. -Fr. Arthur
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$8,611 of $650,000 goal

Raised by 66 people in 6 months
Created December 18, 2018
Funds raised will benefit:
St Andrews Parish of the Archdiocese of Anchorage
Certified Charity
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Eagle River, AK
EIN: 920122473
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