This weekend provided another gorgeous opportunity for a drive to parishes north of Anchorage. The visitation began Saturday afternoon at Our Lady of the Lake in Big Lake, Alaska. We have a Benedictine priest presently serving this community, Fr. Mark Stronach, OSB. Both he and Fr. Joseph McGilloway provide pastoral care to the people in Big Lake, Willow, Trapper Creek and Talkeetna.
We had an overflow crowd for the 6:00 evening Mass, with many of the parishioners taking part in the pot-luck meal that followed.
Sunday morning, Fr. Joseph McGilloway picked me up and we made the thirty minute drive up to St. Christopher in Willow. It was a beautiful winter morning, and I believe we counted twenty one moose during the short drive. I was quite amazed at the church and facility at Willow. These folks are doing a super job in what they have been able to build, sustain, and care for! Once again, there was a breakfast that followed the 9:00 Mass, and then we had to get on the road for the hour long drive up to Talkeetna.
I’m grateful to the parishioners from Trapper Creek who agreed to come to Talkeetna for this weekend’s Mass and celebration. I promise I will come see you some day at your own parish! St. Bernard’s was full for the Noon Mass, and once again, I think everybody stuck around for the meal and visiting that followed. As you will see from the pictures, this is a beautiful old church. The church sustained heavy flood damage in 2012, and since then the parishioners were able to not only recover, but literally raise the original structure five feet to avoid future flooding.
I would love to add a bit more commentary, but duty is calling. Once again, thanks to Laurie for travelling to be a part of these visits and to provide some great photos to mark the visits.
St. Bernard is the patron Saint of mountain climbers - of which there are many that come to Denali.