In recent weeks, Catholics in our local community have been blessed in more ways than one with the arrival of a new priest for Nome and our satellite communities. Meet Father Vince Burns, the new parish priest at Nome’s St. Joseph Catholic Church and the voice of KNOM’s live broadcasts of Sunday Mass.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Fr. Vince arrived in Nome at the end of March. He’s serving in a position left vacant after the departure of previous parish priest and former KNOM board president Father Ross Tozzi, who began a nine-month sabbatical in April and who will, upon returning to Alaska, take a new position as the rector of Fairbanks’ Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Father Vince brings to his Nome position a long record of service — both to Church and to country. After the seminary, he served in the Philadelphia Diocese for 10 years: at the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Chester, PA; St. David in Willow Grove, PA; and St. Ignatius in West Philadelphia. He then joined the U.S. Army as a chaplain. In the military for 28 years, he served two tours in Europe, two in Korea, and divided the remainder of his time stateside: in Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley, both in Kansas; three years at West Point; and what Father Vince jokingly calls a “mandatory hardship tour” in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
When he finally departed the Army in 2005, Fr. Vince began work with Glenmary Home Missioners in Georgia and Mississippi. While he retains an affiliation with Glenmary to this day, he’s “on loan” from them during his current assignment in Western Alaska.
When he’s not ministering to isolated places throughout our region, you’ll often find Father Vince in and around St. Joseph Catholic Church in Nome: celebrating Mass, leading prayers, or cheerfully engaging with the faithful of our community: with a firm handshake, a ready smile, and, sometimes, his Philadelphia Eagles hat in tow.
We’re excited to welcome Father Vince to the neighborhood (St. Joseph, his new parish, is a mere block from KNOM studios), and we thought you might like to meet him, as well!