I have been travelling the western parishes of the state this week conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation. After finishing in Pinedale Thursday night, I remained out west for a sad occasion today. Today we will celebrate a closing Mass at the mission Church of St. Dominic in Cokeville, founded in 1919.
Cokeville is about as far west in Wyoming as one can get, sitting near the Utah border. Decisions to close a mission or a parish do not come easy, and even though the number of parishioners at St. Dominic is now down to just a handful, we are saddened that this day has come. None-the-less, I’m glad to be able to be present to celebrate this solemn occasion with them.
The snow has already started here in Kemmerer early this morning, and Winter Storm Watches and Warnings are posted all across southern Wyoming from Utah to Nebraska. Somehow, I hope to still make it back to Cheyenne tonight before the really bad weather is scheduled to begin. Monday, I must begin the final leg of this year’s Confirmation season in the northeastern part of the state.
So, please pray for the parishioners of St. Dominic today, and please pray that the highways from here to Cheyenne stay open and this bishop arrives safely home tonight!
Gratefully, I made it home. Thanks for all your prayers!
We had a beautiful celebration at St. Dominic today. The one couple that has been the backbone of St. Dominic, Larry and Sharon, were the only members of St. Dominic present. There was only one other family that makes up the membership. They were troopers today!
I’m also very proud of the parishioners from St. Patrick in Kemmerer who showed up to celebrate this Mass in support of the St. Dominic community. We had between 35 and 40 people present for today’s celebration, including a good number of musicians to lead the music. It was a fitting celebration of giving thanks for the 96 years of parish life lived here at St. Dominic.
I was also very proud of the pastor, Fr. David, who made some moving remarks at the close of Mass, reassuring Sharon and Larry that he is still their pastor, and will continue to be present to meet all of their spiritual needs.
Today’s celebration was a great reminder that Church really is not the brick and mortar, but rather the People of God, the Body of Christ, those who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and put their faith in Him into action. The Church is those ‘two or three who gather together’ in Christ’s name, and make Him present through their faith and good works. The Church today was made palpably present by the many parishioners from St. Patrick in Kemmerer who made the 46 mile trek to St. Dominic in wintery weather to pray, sing, and support the waning community of St. Dominic. It truly was a beautiful celebration.
We concluded Mass by a brief visit and prayer to:
The Baptismal Font: where so many people were brought into the life of the Risen Christ and the community of the Church.
The Reconciliation Room: Where God’s people experienced God’s mercy and the healing grace that follows a good confession.
The Ambo: Where God’s Word was proclaimed and preached.
The Altar: Where so many Eucharists were celebrated, Sunday, Holy Days, Weddings, First Communions
After the closing blessing, we reverenced the altar, blew out the candles, and carried the Blessed Sacrament from the church as the bells were rung for one last time. God’s people walked out into the snow and rain and made their way to the Community Center for a meal of thanksgiving.
May God continue to encounter all of His people through our faith, and may all of us continue to do our part to advance the Kingdom of God.