Tuesday, August 31 was an historic day for the Native American People on St. Stephen Indian Mission on the Wind River Indian Reservation. After 126 years of ministry and service to the Native American people at the St. Stephen Indian Mission, the Jesuits transferred the Mission to the Diocese of Cheyenne. It was a truly beautiful, and emotional ceremony, as the pictures will reveal.
A heartfelt thanks to the Jesuits for their loving service to the Native American People at St. Stephen! Somewhere around 100 Jesuit priests, brothers and volunteers served on the reservation during this 126 year history. Departing us at this time are Rev. Ron Seminara, SJ; pastor, Rev. Robert Hilbert, SJ, and Rev. Daniel J. Gannon, SJ. They are each deeply loved.
During the same Mass, we installed the new pastor, and received a new religious community into service in the Diocese. As members of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, the new pastor is Fr. Tony Blount, S.O.L.T., and as associate, Fr. John Gaffney, S.O.L.T., and serving in residence is one of their members who has served already in the diocese, and most recently in Lovell is Fr. Eckley Macklin, S.O.L.T. They will have with them until December another member of their community, Br. Michael Mary Wight, S.O.L.T. Welcome to the S.O.L.T. community!
A word of gratitude also goes to the Sisters of St. Francis who have also been in service with the Jesuits on the Mission for 118 years! Presently at the Mission is Sr. Florence Petsch, OSF and Sr. Teresa Frawley, OSF. They both are true servants of God’s people, and a credit to the religious communities. We are glad, as well, to have the sisters present and serving the people of St. Stephen Mission.
After the Mass on Tuesday evening, I also had Mass Wednesday morning at St. Joseph, in Ethete, and had the opportunity to make a visit to Blessed Sacrament Church at Fr. Washakie. We have good people serving on our Mission, and the people there are in good hands.
I cannot say enough about how moving the Mass was at St. Stephen. The spirit of the Native Americans is quite moving, and I truly enjoyed celebrating Mass with them! I look forward to getting to know them better, and celebrating the sacraments with them again soon. One distinct difference when I celebrate Mass there is that I am not the only one wearing head gear!