After spending a few days visiting the surrounding communities, Fr. Scott Garrett and I arrived back in Dillingham Saturday afternoon. Yesterday, Sunday, we celebrated Mass with the parishioners of Holy Rosary in Dillingham. Fr. Scott spent six years here as pastor, then was transferred to another parish and has returned to the people here in Bristol Bay once again.
Now in his second year of this appointment, I had the privilege of installing him as pastor during yesterday’s Mass. It is clear from conversations I had with numerous parishioners that they are very grateful to have a resident priest once again – particularly one who is so devoted to their care.
Dillingham’s population is approximately 2,000 people. I met parishioners who worked in various fields, such as teachers, education administration, public safety and social workers, medical personnel, legal, aviation, construction, mechanics, and the fishing industry. Obviously, there are also those who own and work in local businesses, as well as government employees that work for parks, forestry, game and fish, and other such offices.
I noticed very quickly when I arrived on Wednesday that the pastor and the people take great pride in this parish. The grounds and facilities are very well cared for. On one hand, there is a strong sense of community here, which was clearly on display Sunday. The pitch-in dinner that followed the Mass was a strong indicator that the people do enjoy the opportunity to gather together and share some fellowship. Beyond the sacramental gatherings, there does not appear to be too many other ministries operative.
The resources for ministry here are scarce, both human and financial. Thus, we see how critically important it is for each person to live their faith, with great integrity, and especially, in a manner that is attractive to others. When each of us are joyful witnesses to Jesus Christ and his Gospel, we naturally attract others to ‘come and see’ what we have discovered. It is then that we can share with them our own experience of faith, and that it is not so much ‘what we have discovered,’ but ‘Who’ we have come to know, Jesus Christ.
I wish to thank Fr. Scott and all those I met this week in southwest Alaska. I look forward to my next visit! Keep living the faith with integrity and joy!
Enjoy the slideshow below.