After catching up on correspondence and touching base with my leadership team, it is time to get out on the road to be among my flock.
Early in August, I spent a Saturday with our seminarians. I’m glad to announce that we recently accepted a new seminary candidate, Mr. Jordan Roberts, who will continue his college seminary studies at St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. (My alma mater!) Of course, I’m very grateful for all six of our seminarians.
While we were together, we celebrated Mass at St. Ann in Saratoga, and Mr. Dylan Ostdiek of Jackson received Candidacy, which is a public profession of his earnest commitment to the formation process which prepares seminary candidates for Holy Orders. The gathering continued at a cabin in Ryan Park in the Snowy Range. There was ample time for conversation, walks, and by God’s Providence, even picking some wild raspberries for dessert Saturday evening! I had to leave the gathering after dinner Saturday night, but the group remained together through Monday. Please continue to pray for our seminarians. You can find our diocesan prayer for vocations here.
Last Thursday I began a six day road trip. I had dinner with a group in Casper Thursday evening. For the past five years, St. Anthony’s Tri Parish Catholic School has included a dinner with the bishop in the annual gala auction, and this year’s gathering was Thursday. It is always a delightful evening, with good food and great people, all in support of Catholic education.
Friday morning after an early Mass at St. Anthony, I made my way to Jackson. I love the drive through the farming country of Fremont County, to Dubois, and over Togwotee Pass, down into Teton County. The first view of the Grand Tetons is always breath-taking. No matter how many times I visit this stunning part of God’s creation, silence seems to be the most fitting way to express the profound impact of its beauty. There was still a bit of residue in the air from the recent wildfires, but the air quality is improving daily. I’m sure everyone in the west would appreciate your prayers for rain, as the wildfire threat is still quite serious.
Friday evening I had dinner in Jackson with the priests, deacons and their wives. Our Lady of the Mountains is a large parish, with a large Hispanic community. It also serves Holy Family church south of Jackson in Star Valley along with providing services at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Grand Teton National Park. You may be interested to know that there is also a Holy Door at the Sacred Heart Chapel for this Jubilee Year of Mercy. I will return for another Mass at the Sacred Heart Chapel on October 29 to close the Holy Door before the close of the Year of Mercy. The many activities and the distances between the churches keeps the clergy well occupied.
Our Lady of the Mountains was established as a mission back in the mid 1930’s. Since that time, the parish has grown along with the community. Ten years ago, they built a beautiful new church, which is the third church structure of this parish. I had Mass here on Saturday morning, and again on Saturday evening, followed by dinner with a group of parishioners. Sunday morning the pastor and I along with our local seminarian, Dylan Ostdiek departed for Star Valley, where we enjoyed a breakfast and Mass with the parishioners of Holy Family. I dedicated their new church in June, 2012. The community continues to grow and thrive, with near standing room only Masses during the high tourist season. The church now has a well ‘lived-in’ feel to it, which is great to see. More importantly, there is a true sense of community, as one quickly notices great participation during Mass and enthusiastic, fraternal interactions afterwards.
From there, we traveled back to Jackson for the parish picnic. A good number of people filtered through during the afternoon, enjoying BBQ pork along with all the other food items provided by parishioners. A couple of parishioners provided the live music, others worked masterpieces of art otherwise known as face painting, watermelon eating contests, sack races, and lots of socializing. It was another great opportunity for me to meet and greet many parishioners.
After a couple hours of visiting at the picnic, it was soon time to make the nearly hour long drive to the Sacred Heart Chapel for the Sunday evening Mass. Once again, during the summer touring season, the chapel is often standing room only for Mass. I really enjoyed visiting with people as they arrived and departed from the Chapel. The park attracts a very international group of people. This very full day was capped off with a visit to a family at the well known Triangle X Ranch, which is in the Grand Teton National Park. After a brief visit with the family, we joined all of the ‘campers’ for a BBQ and some cowboy songs. It was a glorious evening.
Finally, Monday being a Holy Day, I celebrated a morning Mass once again at Our Lady of the Mountains, followed by brunch. I feel like the parishioners had me on a feeding program while I was there! Not good for the waistline, but very good on the way there! After this, I also at the generosity of one of our deacons, was able to spend a few hours fly fishing on the Snake River. With the day drawing to a close, I had dinner with the pastor, a nice walk, and a final visit regarding the life of the parish.
Tuesday morning, I was up and on the road home. I stopped in Pinedale for a visit with the pastor. From there, I had lunch with two priests in Rock Springs, then a meeting with the pastor and planning committee of Holy Spirit parish. From there, I made my way back to Cheyenne. A bit road-weary, but filled with gratitude, I celebrated Mass and called it a day!
Below are some pictures from the recent travels. The weeks ahead are filled with similar travels. If it has been a while since you have seen me in your parish, please ask your pastor to extend an invitation and set up some activities. I look forward to seeing you. Till then, do not forget that our Rural Life Mass and celebration are this Sunday at the Miles Land Ranch west of Casper. Look here for more information and directions.
Keep living the faith and building the Kingdom!