Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Parish priest succumbs to heart attack


Submitted Photo

Fr. Thomas Weise

The priest who had been serving the Roman Catholic parishes in Petersburg and Wrangell died over the weekend.

Fr. Thomas Weise, 46, died Sunday evening, Dec. 6 at a hospital in San Luis Obispo, Calif., surrounded by family. He had been on a visit for the Thanksgiving weekend when respiratory arrest triggered a heart attack on Nov. 25. He was hospitalized, but never regained consciousness.

Speaking at Wrangell's annual Dove Tree proceedings Sunday afternoon, Fr. Michael Galbraith explained Weise had been removed from his ventilator Friday and was not expected to live for much longer.

"We just appreciate all your prayers, and he really loved you guys," Galbraith told community members. Weise had originally been scheduled to deliver the opening prayer at the interdenominational ceremony.

Weise had been the pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Petersburg and St. Rose of Lima Parish in Wrangell since 2011. Parishioners and neighbors felt he had made a positive influence in both communities, undertaking renovation projects at the parish churches and involving himself in local clubs and organizations.

Several memorial services have been scheduled for

Weise. Bishop Edward Burns and priests of the Diocese of Juneau will concelebrate a Mass of Christian Burial at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in San Luis Obispo on Dec. 15.

The bishop will return to Wrangell on Dec. 16, where a Memorial Mass will be held at 7 p.m. at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.

The service in Wrangell will be preceded by the opening of the Holy Door for the Jubilee of Mercy. Originally scheduled for Tuesday evening, Weise had enthusiastically been preparing for this event, and had constructed the door himself. The opening of such a sacred door signifies the start of a year of Jubilee, a time which puts an emphasis on conversion and repentance, and includes designated celebrations, pilgrimages, and special opportunities to partake in church sacraments.

Jubilee years are usually held every 25 or 50 years. The last was declared in 2000, and on Mar. 13 Pope Francis had proclaimed a holy year of mercy. In the Juneau Diocese, only two such doors were to be opened, one at the Shrine of St. Therese chapel in Juneau, and one in Wrangell.

After the Wrangell service, on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. Burns will preside at a Memorial Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Petersburg. At 7 p.m. the following day, services will be held at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Juneau.

A complete obituary is to follow. Cards, letters and notes of encouragement can be sent to Weise's family at 672 Howard Street, San Luis Obispo, Calif. 93401. For more information, call the Juneau Diocese at 586-2227 or visit http://www.dioceseofjuneau.org for updates.


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