Yesterday morning, even before the beginning of the Institute program, a rather substantial group of people gathered at St. Anthony’s Tri-Parish School to honor our beloved Msgr. James O’Neill. 

Msgr. O’Neill prepared for priesthood in his native Ireland and then as a young priest came to the service of the People of God of the Diocese of Cheyenne.  Now retired for a number of years, and valiantly struggling with health issues, he continues to spread faith, warmth, joy and hope to all with whom he comes into contact.  He is a great example of priesthood and a model for our times of what it means to be an ‘evangelizer’ simply by the way he lives his faith and life.  I think he must be part cat because he has denied death more times than anyone can recall.

Perhaps it was this particular aspect of his life that St. Anthony’s Tri-Parish School chose to recognize him at their first ever Joy Breakfast.  The school recently established a Joy Fund to help provide a stable financial future for the school.  The Fund boasts a matching gift of $3.5 million dollars with a 1:1 match.  This grant will match up to $3.5 million dollars in donations until 2017.

St. Anthony’s Tri-Parish School (established in 1927) also knows what it is like to ‘cheat death.’  Not that long ago, the school was on the brink of closure.  But thanks to great leadership, the faith of the local community, and the will and tremendous generosity of a few individuals, the school now has a bright future.  In the Fall of 2011, and state of the art school was opened, and enrollment is now over 300 students and continues to grow.

 Not only Msgr. O’Neill, but the entire faith community of Casper are to be commended for their faith, hard work, and dedication to Catholic Education.  They are a great model for what faith can do!  Keep living the Faith!