FAIRBANKS — The bankruptcy of a Las Vegas tour company looks like it will be costly for the Roman Catholic Church in Alaska, but the sudden move is expected to have only a small impact on the Fairbanks diocese.
ITC Tours of Las Vegas announced on June 10 that it intended to file for bankruptcy. Catholic dioceses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau had used the company to book arrangements for the coming World Youth Day Pilgrimage in Rio de Janeiro and had prepaid for the travel of 50 Alaska participants last month.
The loss of those arrangements is expected to cost the dioceses about $181,000, according to a letter sent by bishops from Alaska’s three largest dioceses to parishioners on June 13. The letter said a claim will be made in bankruptcy court to retrieve that lost money, but “it will take years to see whether we recover anything.”
The effect on the local diocese, however, should be relatively small. Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks spokesman Robert Hannon said only one Fairbanksan is planning to make the July 23-28 trip to Rio.
The ITC Tours bankruptcy will cost about $4,000 for those lost arrangements, and Hannon said an emergency fund exists at the diocese to address needs of that size.
“It’s something that we can manage,” he said.
The letter said the bishops considered canceling the trips but wanted to honor the commitment the participants had made.
“Throughout our dioceses we have worked to show our young people they are important and deserve our care and support — especially in the face of adversity,” the letter stated.
Overall, the dioceses will be loaning about $200,000 to the Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishops to cover immediate costs associated with the World Youth Day pilgrimage, according to the letter. They will work to replenish those lost reserves through a targeted fundraising effort.
World Youth Day 2013 is part of an ongoing series of international religious pilgrimages for young Catholics.
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