The people of Powell, Wyoming are celebrating the 100th anniversary of their parish, St. Barbara. There is quite a bit of excitement on such an occasion. Fr. Glenn Szczechowski, the present pastor is a gracious host to this bishop when he shows up, and is doing a fine job of continuing to nourish the faith of this Catholic community. He is also known as a skilled fly fisherman! I hope on Thursday to learn some of his tricks on a fly fishing trip on the North Fork of the Shoshone River.
As with many other such parishes, they got their start in a family home (Mr. & Mrs. Charles E. Robinson) with the few local Catholics gathering for Mass whenever the priest (Rev. N.J. Endres) was in Powell. These Masses actually began in 1908. It was only later, 1910 that the parish was formally established, and the first church erected. Fr. Endres covered quite a bit of territory in those days. He typically made it to Powell only once a month, and a weekday at that. He was based in Cody, and covered the Wyoming territory between the Big Horn mountains and Yellow Stone Park, otherwise generally known as the Big Horn Basin.
The present church is their 3rd church, built in 1965. There are approximately 480 families presently associated with the parish. This is a beautiful part of the state, with a good amount of agriculture, ranching, and great fishing and hunting. As with so much of the state, there is a fair amount of oil and gas in the region as well.
Some of the families have deep roots, and many people have moved in only recently. Someone told me this evening at the dinner following Mass that it is a great place to retire due to the climate. There is less precipitation in this part of the state and less wind. The agriculture relies heavily on irrigation.
As the readings for Mass remind us, the existence of the Church and each of its parishes is all about Christ. He is our foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). The Church proclaims Christ (Word), receives Christ (Sacrament) and extends Christ (Charity). He takes up His dwelling in each of us (1 Corinthians 3:9) that we may make Him present to others. As St. Peter professed his faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16), so are we to grow in faith in Christ, and profess Him to others. As Christ made a profound impact in the lives of those He touched in the world, so through the Church, Christ continues to change us, to change lives.
As Christ came for the conversion and salvation of the world, so is the work of Christ in and through the Church today.
How well are we cooperating with this eternal plan of God to make us members of His family through Jesus?
How faithful are we to hearing and acting on God’s Word?
How regularly do we gather with the People of God to celebrate and receive the Sacraments of the Church that we may continue to grow into the fullness of God’s family?
How generous are we in living our life in a manner that distributes the generosity of God shared with us through His Son?
Thanks, St. Barbara for your 100 years of faith! Ad Multos Annos!