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St. Pat's Staff

Fr. Leo Walsh Pastor

Listen to Fr. Leo’s Sunday homilies on Fr. Leo’s Benevolent Blog!

Much to his surprise and delight, Fr. Leo Walsh was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1964, the last of eight children born to Leo and Beverly Walsh.

Baptized in Holy Family Cathedral, the future Fr. Walsh and his family were asked to be one of the founding families of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Spenard, Alaska.  It was there that he learned to celebrate his Catholic Faith, first in public elementary school gymnasiums, later in a rented Methodist Church and finally in a modest parish center that was built by his father and many other volunteers.

In 1987, Fr. Walsh received a Degree in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame with a concentration in Organizational Behavior and Labor Relations.  After working in the private sector for a few years, Fr. Walsh entered seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Anchorage in 1994 and returned to Rome for a year to finish a Licentiate in Ecumenical Theology at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Urbe, also known as the “Angelicum.”  In 2008, Fr. Walsh was granted a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum with a concentration in Ecumenical Theology.  In 2019 he returned from  Rome after obtaining a License in Canon Law.

After assignments as Associate Pastor at two inner-city parishes, Fr. Walsh was named Pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Eagle River, Alaska, in 1999.  In addition, Fr. Walsh has served the Archdiocese as Vicar General, Vicar for Clergy, Vocations Director, Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer, as well as on the College of Consultors and as a trustee on the Priest Retirement Trust.

In May 2009, Fr. Walsh was appointed Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., where he served as the Interreligious Specialist.

On June 1, 2011, Fr. Walsh returned to Anchorage as Pastor of St. Benedict Parish, where he served for five years.

Fr. Walsh returned from Rome in 2019 and is now the Pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Anchorage, as well as the Adjutant Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Anchorage.

Fr. Walsh has served on innumerable boards and task forces including the boards of the Anchorage Opera, Catholic Social Services and the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Officers.  In 2002 he was invested as a Knight in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and was promoted to the rank of Knight Commander in 2007.

He is also a licensed Rugby Referee and a Nationally Certified Beer Judge.  Fr. Walsh is a licensed private pilot with multiple ratings and is a proud member of the National Association of Priest Pilots.  Blessed with the “Gift of Gab,” Fr. Walsh loves to give talks on a variety of topics, and does so in dioceses and parishes throughout the United States and Canada.

When he is not in the parish or traveling around the country, he enjoys flying his float-equipped bush plane to many secret fishing holes or to his remote cabin in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness.

Dcn. Mick Fornelli Deacon

I am currently married to my wonderful wife Michelle and I have two sons. I was born in So. California where I went to grade school and high school where I was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Marianist Brothers. I enjoyed many years of playing baseball, when I was not at the beach surfing, including 2 years with the Minnesota Twins farm system. I am a graduate of the University of Washington-Michael Foster School of Business. Worked as a stuntman for two years at Disneyland and with an independent stuntman group performing through So. California.

My work experience began as I was employed at a finance company as Branch Manager. I left that industry to take a position in the banking industry where I served for 15 years in areas of Dealer Finance Credit, Commercial Credit, International Money Desk, and finally as Vice-President & Branch Manager. I left the banking world and accepted a position moving to the equipment rental industry where I served 12 years in roles starting as Regional Credit Manager and progressing to the role of Chief Operating Officer with the responsibility to handle mergers and acquisitions as well as employee integration. The time spent in this role allowed me to gain international business experience in developing and opening branch locations in Mexico and Canada.

During this time, I moved from California to Florida to Oregon to Alaska where I went to work for the Municipality of Anchorage in the Treasury Division. After three years with the Municipality, I was nominated for and was blessed to receive the Employee of the Year Award from the Municipality.

I entered formation for and was subsequently ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2009. Upon ordination, I was appointed Director of Deacon Ministry and Formation by Archbishop Roger Schwietz and assigned to St. Patrick’s parish where I currently serve in my parochial assignment.

In addition to these two assignments, I co-ordinate the Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekends and serve as Chaplain at St. Elias Hospital and the Bro. Francis Homeless Shelter. Most recently Archbishop Etienne has sustained my current assignments and appointed me Chairman of the Archdiocese Liturgy Committee.

John Gagnon Business Manager

I have had the joy of working here at St. Patrick’s Parish since 1979. That was shortly after I moved to Alaska and just before Cyndi (Zartman) and I were married in 1980. We celebrated our wedding in the Deacons Hall back when it was our parish’s worship space. We were blessed with three wonderful daughters, two of whom live here in Anchorage and are members of St. Patrick’s. Cyndi and I are further blessed with two beautiful granddaughters who are also members of our faith community.

My work involves office management, bookkeeping, and maintenance here at the parish. I have had the honor and joy of working with many wonderful, Spirit filled people on the parish staff over many years. I have seen great growth here at St. Patrick’s, and I hope and pray that God will continue to bless our parish community.

Paige Christensen Dir. Youth Ministry

Paige was born in Irvine, California where she lived for twelve years until her family moved to Austin, Texas. Paige was baptized at St. Killian Catholic Church when she was one month old, she received the seal of The Holy Spirit through Confirmation when she was four-years-old, and received First Reconciliation & Communion at age eight. Paige is number six of seven kids, she has two incredible siblings-in-law, and seven adorable nieces and nephews. Paige would be nowhere without her unceasingly supportive father and mother, Hal and Lindsay Christensen. Paige along with her siblings were homeschooled and catechized by their mom and dad, but when they moved to Texas all of the kids were placed in public school for the very first time.

Paige did not grow up going to youth group, however after hearing about a Steubenville Youth Conference that her church was attending, she decided to take a leap and join the group. After spending four days in St. Louis, Missouri, Paige had a radical conversion of heart and decided she wanted to start living her life for The Lord. As she went into her senior year of high school she stopped underage drinking and began to attend her youth group more frequently.

Paige spent the summer of 2013 working at The Pines Catholic Camp in East, Texas and was exposed to the most authentic friendships she had ever had. It was there that she felt the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for the very first time. After that summer, Paige sought out a Catholic community at the University Catholic Center at The University of Texas in Austin (Hook ‘Em Horns). Paige joined a Catholic sorority (Mu Epsilon Theta), FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), and was heavily involved in a retreat organization called Awakening. Through these organizations and receiving the Sacraments daily, Paige’s relationship with Christ and The Blessed Mother began to grow immensely.

After working at The Pines for a second summer, Paige heard about a small camp in Wasilla, Alaska called St. Therese’s Catholic Camp. The idea of spending a summer free from 110 degree weather sounded incredible. After an immense amount of discernment, Paige applied and was accepted to be a counselor at St. Therese’s. After spending the summer of 2015 in Alaska, Paige fell in love with the simplicity, beauty, and the people of the state. Also Kaladi Brothers, she fell in love with that too. After finishing school, Paige drove her car from Austin, Texas to Wasilla, Alaska in the summer of 2016. She worked that summer at St. Therese’s as their Communications Coordinator.

Come Fall 2016, Paige moved to Anchorage to work as a nanny and began volunteering with the high school youth group at St. Patrick’s Parish. After volunteering for almost a year, Paige was offered an internship at St. Patrick’s and started running the middle school program and the media for the parish. After interning for five months, on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Paige was offered a full time job to be the Director of Youth Ministry at St. Patrick’s. Paige is living out her dream job and is falling deeper in love with The Lord each day.

Sally Nicholson Secretary

Sally A. Nicholson was born on July 29, 1947 in Spokane, Washington 
were she lived until she moved to Juneau, Alaska in 1976. She spends most of the vacations in Spokane, where most of her family resides. She is the second oldest of 8 children, has 3 children and 11 grandchildren. Sally currently lives in her 2 bedrooms home with her 13-year-old dog, McKenzie, but often has household guests.

Sally started working for the Department of Corrections Central Office in Juneau, Alaska in 1976, transferred to Anchorage in 1982 and worked 15 years coordinating the Community Work Service Program, and working with Probationers and Parolees to reintegrate them into the community. For the past 13 years Sally has worked as the Parish Secretary at St. Patrick’s which her duties include working with Deacon’s Outreach Program. Sally is motivated and receives energy when she sees positive change in herself and others. Sally believes all relationships lead us closer to God regardless if positive or negative, or involve conflict and misunderstandings.

Sally attended Spokane Community College, University of Alaska Juneau and the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Sally has ministered, provided leadership, gained strength, growth and support from the following ministries:

• Cursillo (Short Course in Christ) (4 Years)
• Teens Encounter Christ (TEC)
• A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Community, Theology & Service)
 Retreatant, Team, & Spiritual Companion

20 years as a member of Christian Life Community which is a lay organization. Each local community is a part of the world community. CLC is rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Members come from all walks of life, but share a common desire to respond more fully to God‘s call in their lives.

Catechist, Approximately 15 years, Primarily taught, co-taught or substituted grades K thru 6th. Locations:

• St. Paul’s, Juneau, AK.
• Our Lady of Guadalupe, Anchorage
• St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

Rima Ostrom Office Assistant

Shortly after our move to Alaska in 2004, my husband John and I found a home here at St. Patrick’s. One day after Mass, one of the parishioners came up to me and asked me a simple question, “How would you like to help out with coffee and donuts after Mass?” Who knew that saying yes to helping with coffee and donuts would lead me to a life full of new friends, family, and a closer relationship with God.

I began volunteering with the Hospitality Committee, and through my husband John, became involved with various Knights of Columbus functions at the parish, and then eventually I found myself volunteering in the parish office. In 2012 I was officially hired on as an Office Assistant. My various duties include parish registration, donation recording, and hall events scheduling.

Working at St. Patrick’s has blessed me in so many ways. Who knew? God!