Former Juneau Orthodox priest honored by state

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2002

A priest who served several years at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Juneau is being honored for his work.

The Rev. Michael J. Oleksa, who serves as dean of St. Innocent Orthodox Cathedral in Anchorage, will receive an award for distinguished service to state government during the National Governors' Association 94th Annual Meeting in Boise, Idaho, on Sunday.

Gov. Tony Knowles nominated Oleksa for his 32 years of service as a priest, teacher and citizen leader.

"From Kodiak to Fairbanks to Dillingham to Juneau, he has been a role model for how to work tirelessly to make Alaska state government more responsive to every resident, whether they live in remote villages or the big city. Oleksa's contributions to our state have inspired us all," Knowles said.

Knowles said Oleksa helped lead the way for positive and meaningful changes to state government and for bringing Alaskans together across great geographic and cultural distances. Oleksa served as a delegate to the Governor's Subsistence Leadership Summit in August 2001 and was a member of the Governor's Commission on Tolerance.

Oleksa hosted KTOO TV's public television series "Communications Across Cultures," which is still being used 10 years after it was produced in Alaska.

"My two central concerns have been helping narrow the distance between people of different races and cultures as our state has become increasingly diverse, and preserving the incredible natural beauty of the land," Oleksa said. "I believe intercultural intolerance and environmental issues constitute the two greatest potential threats to the quality of life in Alaska in the near and distant future, and I have committed my time and energy to addressing these critical issues."

Oleksa will be out of the country July 14, so Knowles will accept the award on his behalf. The governor will present Oleksa with his commemorative plaque in August.

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