Can I accept a job in a location without a Catholic Church?

I work in the oil & gas industry and have been asked to work on the north slope of Alaska near Prudhoe Bay. This will be a rotational assignment where I work three weeks straight (7 days/week) and then have three weeks off back at my home location.

I have searched for Catholic churches in the area and am having trouble locating one in the area. I am a practicing Catholic and don’t want to violate a commandment by missing mass, but I’ve also heard different opinions on special circumstances like this one. What is the churches official position on this?

I appreciate your help and advice.

Joel Schrenk

Yes, you are free to accept a job anywhere you wish. However, wherever you go the Catholic Church will be there because you are there. You are a member of the Church and bring it wherever you go.

However, I do understand that you mean a Catholic parish with a Mass. You are not obligated to limit yourself to areas with access to Mass. If that were true there would have been no Catholic explorers or pioneers or astronauts.

Obviously whether this job and situation is something you want or are willing to do is a personal decision that only you can make. If we have no reasonable access to Mass then our Sunday obligation is abrogated. As Dr. Edward Peters notes: Boniface VIII, De Regulis Iuris, no. 8, “Nemo potest ad impossibile obligari.” (No one can be obliged to do the impossible)

As for what to do during those times, canon law recommends (but does not require):

Canon 1248, 2. If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the liturgy of the word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.

If you still feel uncomfortable you can ask your local pastor for a dispensation from the Sunday obligation for those times you’ll be away (canon 1245).

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