Retired Alaska archbishop, a St. Paul native, recovering after minor heart attack

| Joel Davidson | May 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Archbishop Roger Schwietz processes in at the start of Mass March 5 at St. Casimir in St. Paul, passing through a Knights of Columbus honor guard. He concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Father Michael Powell, the pastor of the parish. Archbishop Schwietz grew up in the parish and currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where he served until his retirement in November 2016. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Retired Archbishop Roger Schwietz, who recently visited his home parish of St. Casimir in St. Paul, was released from an Anchorage hospital April 30 after experiencing a minor heart attack two days earlier while preparing to celebrate Mass.

The 76-year-old archbishop was resting at home and in good spirits May 1.

“My health has been stabilized, and there was no permanent damage to the heart,” Archbishop Schwietz told the Catholic Anchor, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Anchorage.

Archbishop Schwietz experienced chest pains while preparing to celebrate morning Mass at St. Andrew Church in Eagle River, Alaska, where he has served as pastor since his retirement in November 2016.

The archdiocese said in a statement that the archbishop was taken by ambulance to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage where he received immediate cardiovascular care. Doctors found no obstructions, but kept him at the hospital for observation.

Archbishop Schwietz said he would likely need surgery to replace his aortic valve.

“It’s a pretty routine surgery they do nowadays,” he said, adding that for the next two weeks doctors have told him to maintain a light schedule and to avoid air travel.

“The good news is that the doctors did find out that I do in fact have a heart,” he joked.

He expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support he received since his hospitalization. “I really appreciate all the prayers,” he said.

Archbishop Schwietz led the Anchorage archdiocese for 15 years before retiring in November.


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