Anchorage, November 29, 2023
Archpriest Michael Oleksa, known as a missionary priest, having served in over a dozen Alaskan villages, and a scholar of Orthodoxy in Alaska and Native Alaskan history and culture, reposed in the Lord today, November 29, after suffering a stroke.
The Diocese of Sitka and Alaska of the Orthodox Church in America issued the following statement:
May thy soul dwell with the blessed— Memory eternal, Вечная Память, dear father
At 12:30 this morning on November 29th, His Grace, +Bishop Alexei received word that the beloved Archpriest Michael Oleksa fell asleep in the Lord. In a communication sent to the clergy, +Bishop Alexei wrote;
“My dear Fathers,
Archpriest Michael Oleksa has fallen asleep in the Lord. Father Peter Chris was able to commune Father Michael and I, Father Daniel, Father Peter Chris, and Father Jonah were able to administer last rites before he fell asleep. He was surrounded by his immediate family and loved ones. An announcement will be sent out when funeral arrangements will be made. Those of the clergy who desire to attend the funeral will have my blessing to do so.
Memory eternal. Вечная Память, dear father.”
Please keep Father Michael and his family in your prayers, especially during the first 40 days.
His biography from fatheroleksa.org reads:
The Reverend Dr. Michael James Oleksa has spent the last 35 years in Alaska, serving as village priest, university professor, consultant on intercultural relations and communications, and authoring several books on Alaska Native cultures and history. A 1969 graduate of Georgetown University and of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Father Oleksa earned his doctoral degree in Presov, Slovakia, in 1988. His four-part PBS television series, Communicating Across Cultures, has been widely acclaimed.
The recipient of numerous awards from local, state and federal agencies, as well as the Alaska Federation of Natives, Father Michael has taught on all three main campuses of the University of Alaska system and at Alaska Pacific University as well. He currently resides in Anchorage with his Yup’ik wife, Xenia, his daughter Anastasia and one of his three grandsons.
Fr. Michael has authored books such as Orthodox Alaska: A Theology of Mission, Everyday Wonders: Stories of God’s Providence, Alaskan Missionary Spirituality, and Another Culture/Another World, and many more.
He recently joined Fr. Nicholas Molodyko-Harris to speak about the recent canonization of St. Olga of Alaska.