The Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks is the largest in the country in geographical terms. It stretches from Tok, near the Canadian border, all the way across the state to Little Diomede near the border with Russia; from Barrow on the coast of the Arctic Ocean to Chefornak south of Nelson Island it encompasses almost 410, 000 square miles. Within its boundaries the diocese is home to 14, 500 Catholics, out of a general population of 161, 000.
Fairbanks is also the country's only fully missionary Catholic diocese, falling under the "Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples" the Church's international missionary wing. The diocese is among the poorest in the nation. Only eight of its 46 parishes and missions are self-supporting. The viability of these parishes depends in large measure on donors from across the country and around the world. The diocese spreads the word of its needs through its newsletter, "The Alaskan Shepherd."