U.S. Air Force Chaplain Named Bishop of Fairbanks, Alaska

Father Chad Zielinski appointed by Pope Francis to fill vacant post

Father Chad Zielinski, Ch, Maj, USAF, Bishop-elect of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Father Chad Zielinski, Ch, Maj, USAF, Bishop-elect of Fairbanks, Alaska.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Pope Francis has named Father Chad Zielinski, Ch, Maj, USAF, a priest of the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, as the bishop ofFairbanks, Alaska. Bishop-elect Zielinski is currently serving in theArchdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. He succeeds Bishop Donald J. Kettler, who was appointed bishop of St. Cloud, Minnesota, on September 20, 2013.

The appointment was announced in Washington on Saturday, November 8, 2014, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Chad Zielinski was born in Detroit on September 8, 1964. He grew up in Alpena, Michigan, in the Diocese of Gaylord. He entered the Air Force in 1982, after high school, and while stationed in Idaho, applied for admission to seminary in the Diocese of Boise City. He completed his studies at Mt. Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon, in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.In 1994, he returned to the Diocese of Gaylord and completed his master of divinity degree atSacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was ordained a priest of Gaylord on June 8, 1996. He served as associate pastor forImmaculate Conception Parish in Traverse City, Michigan, and in 1998 became pastor of St. Phlip Neri Parish in Empire, Michigan, and St. Rita-St. Joseph in Maple City, Michigan. He was elected to serve on the presbyteral council in 1999 and became pastor for administrative affairs of the diocesan mission to Hispanics in 2000.

In 2002, Father Zielinski received permission to serve as an Air Force chaplain and has been on active duty since that time. His deployments have included serving troops in war zones in the Middle East, the corps of cadets at the Air Force Military Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and as vocation recruiter for the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, said:

“Bishop-elect Zielinski is an exemplary priest. He impressed me when I came to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. His service as a recruiter of Air Force chaplains brought us into frequent contact. He later impressed me with his piety, zeal, and immense kindness in his service at the Air Force Academy. The faithful in Fairbanks will find in him a Shepherd after the Heart of Jesus. I only regret losing a fine chaplain! ”

The Diocese of Fairbanks is the geographically largest territorial diocese in the United States, covering 409,849 square miles in northern Alaska. It has a total population of 164,355, of which 11,008, or 7 percent, are Catholic.

Photo Cutline: Father Chad Zielinski, Ch, Capt, USAF, Bishop-elect of Fairbanks, Alaska.