Contact: Bob McMorrow, World Youth Day Coordinator
907-273-1552 or 907-231-0660
Alaska Catholic youths’ plans to see Pope Francis hit a major obstacle when travel company declares bankruptcy
Reserve funds will salvage trip, fundraising efforts underway
ANCHORAGE-FAIRBANKS-JUNEAU – 50 young Alaskans scheduled to see Pope Francis in Rio de Janiero next month saw their plans jeopardized when the travel company used for World Youth Day Pilgrimage trips (ITC Tours, Las Vegas, Nev.) announced it intended to file for bankruptcy.
It is preliminarily estimated that $181,000 in fundraising has been lost to the pending bankruptcy.
Young Catholics from across Alaska have been fundraising for two years to attend World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, between July 23-28, 2013. Many of the young people sold soup and cookie mixes and religious items to members of their respective parishes to raise funds, as well as working jobs and otherwise saving money.
The Bishops of Alaska (Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, Juneau Bishop Edward Burns, and Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler) announced this weekend that reserve funds will cover costs, so no one’s trip will be canceled. However, those reserve funds need to be replaced, so another fundraising effort is underway. A number of dioceses outside of Alaska affected by the bankruptcy filing have decided to cancel their trips.
ITC Tours has made complete arrangements for Catholic and for many other dioceses for six successive World Youth Days.
As is the practice for pilgrimages, all payment was due 60 days prior to departure. The Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishops (ACCB) had made those payments on behalf of the participating youth who had paid for this event.
Unfortunately, with this pending bankruptcy, none of these funds is available. A claim will be entered in bankruptcy court, but it will take years to see whether anything is recovered.
“Throughout our dioceses, we have worked to show our young people they are important and deserve our care and support — especially in the face of adversity,” said Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI.
“These young people have worked hard fundraising to participate in this pilgrimage where they will meet young Catholics from around the world. The highlight will be participating in the Mass with Pope Francis. We will make sure they make it to Brazil, but we will need help in meeting this unbudgeted expense.”
The final deposits on rebooked airline tickets and hotels are due in the next 5-7 days. In an effort to trim costs, less expensive hotels and accommodations are being sought. Collectively, the various Catholic dioceses of Alaska will loan $200,000 to the ACCB to cover the youths’ immediate costs. While the individual dioceses can continue to function normally without these reserves, ultimately the reserves of each diocese must be replenished.
Anyone wishing to help many send a donation to:
Alaska Catholic Conference
Attn: World Youth Day 2013
225 Cordova Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
About WYD: World Youth Day is an international pilgrimage of youth that the Pope calls together every two or three years. Youth will gather with millions of other young people from more than 180 other countries, and participate in cultural festivals, visit holy sites, be taught by the world’s Bishops and Cardinals, and gather for a candlelight vigil and Mass with Pope Francis.
A reader writes:
I got this from my sister today. Below is a link to a dad pouring out his heart in song and prayer in the hope that his baby daughter’s life might be saved. There’s a facebook address at the end where people can help, or they can contact my awesome sis at megan.miles1010 –at– gmail.com. She’s the HR manager at Lowe’s where this good man works. I know they would all be grateful if you posted this. She writes as follows:
“I have an employee who has an 8 month old daughter who is dying of a rare liver disease. She will not make it much longer without a liver transplant and the medical expenses are ginormous. She is on the list for a transplant, but things are looking grim. Some of the employees at Lowe’s are holding a benefit for her at the end of this month, which I will be working at as a volunteer. The link I am attaching is a song that my co-worker, Luke (her dad) wrote about going through the process and how he is coping with it. If anyone is willing to help financially or with services/things we could auction off at the benefit, it would be greatly appreciated. OR, if you know of anyone who might be willing to help, please pass this on to them or put me in touch with them. You can make donations here.
This is for a really good cause. I have met Kateri and the rest of Luke’s family several times. They are amazing and are getting through this struggle because of their faith. If you want more information about the benefit, I will have it in a few days…just let me know and I will get it to you.