Before Father Patrick Bergquist moved to Alaska, he imagined himself spending his free evenings wrapped in a warm quilt, reading novel after novel during the long arctic winters. Those idealized expectations were met with the unavoidable reality of winter's harshness, a pervasive darkness that made it neither realistic nor helpful to merely wait out the winter and hope for spring." And yet, says Bergquist, this is what we as a Catholic Church are tempted to do in the enduring darkness of the sexual abuse crisis. We want to wrap ourselves in the secure blanket of tradition and memory, thinking that this crisis too will pass-or worse still, that it has already passed.
Bergquist admits he is "but a simple parish priest, no saint and surely no scholar." But it is precisely his perspective as a parish priest that gives rise to his poetic and prophetic voice. He speaks from his heart, soul, and experience in a way few others have done. He names and validates the pain and fear, the hopes and dreams that so many of us share. The Long Dark Winter's Night is both realistic and helpful.
Patrick Bergquist was ordained in 1990. He is a diocesan priest of the Missionary Diocese of Northern Alaska and has been pastor of St. Raphael Catholic parish in Fairbanks since 1998.