Thursday, August 11, 2016

Around the Mission First Week in August 2016

The first week in August was fantastic around the Saint Paul Mission, based at Holy Rosary in Dillingham, Alaska.

Although it rained most of the week, the church lawn and the cemetery lawn did get mowed.

I was able to have Mass at Clarks Point (Saint Peter the Fisherman) on Friday and King Salmon Naknec (Saint Theresa) on Sunday.  After waiting for the fog to lift in Dillingham, I was flew over to Clark's with about two minutes to spare before mass.  We celebrated mass in Clark Point's brand spanken new community center.  We hope to raise money for a new Catholic Church building to go next door to the new center.  The old church, built by Mariano's father (Mariano Floresta pictured below) is around fifty years old and falling apart.

Above, Judy and Mariano..  Juliana also attended.

Here is a short video as I was flying over to Saint Theresa from Clark's Point.


The cemetery is looking very nice after all the rain and a little tender loving care.

I am currently getting ready to travel to Bethesda, near Washington, DC, for mission talks to raise money for our Saint Paul Mission.  We have confirmed on weekend, September 17 and 18, and are working on September 10 and 11. Here is a brief outline of some of the points I will be talking about.  If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment:

Alaskan Catholic Population:
136,000 square miles (twice the size of Texas)
33,000 Catholics
4.2 Catholics per square mile
29 parishes/missions
21 in remote areas
10 Archdiocesan priests, 11 temporary and ordered priests
8 priests short

Roads: No roads to connect some 30 villages in the Mission
Airplanes: Villages rely on airplanes for food, supplies, ministry
Geography: Catholics live far apart
Anchorage to Dillingham is 350 miles
Anchorage to Dutch Harbor mission 796 miles
Weather: Weather is unpredictable, severe, -30, gail winds, ice, snow, freezing rain
Culture: Yupik Eskimo, some Hispanic, Filipino, and Caucasian
Mass Frequency: Sometime never, once a year, once a month

$1,300 every visit, i.e. Anchorage-Dillingham-King Salmon Round Trip
$1,000 Round Trip to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
$15,000 per year to budget Airplane for priest pilot

Every Catholic, by law, has the right to the sacraments
We are eight priests short
We have two seminarians
Cost per seminarian: $50,000 each/year

Where does the money go?
1.    Travel to remote villages.
2.    Education for seminarians

3.    Your donation will help Catholics in remote areas to receive sacraments.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

First Two Months Back at the Saint Paul Mission, Dillingham, Alaska.

After five years at Sacred Heart in Wasilla, Alaska, I have been re-assigned back to the Mission in Dillingham. Father Kelly started the mission in the early 1990's and was killed in a plane crash 11 years later while flying to celebrate a Mass in Togiak, Alaska. Fr. Kelly named this Mission "Saint Paul Mission," from the bible scripture about taking the Gospel "to the ends of the earth." After five years away, here is what I have been doing my first two months back: (See Pictures Below)

1. Set up mass times for Holy Rosary in Dillingham, Alaska and Saint Theresa in King Salmon/Naknek. Mass will be every other Sunday. A communion service will be celebrated on the "other" Sunday. Flew to Saint Theresa three times to celebrate Mass and Clarks Point twice.

2. Set up mass for Clarks Point, Alaska. Mass will be every Friday at noon in their new community center.

3. Organized and cleaned the Sacristies, kitchens, and basement storage in both Saint Theresa and Holy Rosary churches.

4. Painted the basement floor and entry way at the Holy Rosary Rectory.

5. Spent a couple days in the cemetery leveling grave sites, filling in sunken grave sites, mowing, and trimming.

6. Organized the office in the rectory (installed scanner, weeded through old material, updated computer software, and simplified). Cleaned out the garage and organized all of the tools.

7. Ordered a dump truck load of gravel and spread it over the parking lot.

8. Cleaned the bathrooms, caulked around the showers, and replaced the shower heads, and replaced the shower curtains.

9. Had a youth retreat from Sacred Heart do a community service retreat.

10. Cut down a bug kill tree behind the church with the chain saw.

11. Built a smokehouse. I went to the Dillingham Land Fill, got an old freezer, and converted it.

12. Hung up flowers around the rectory and Nora from Cracker box donated flowers for the sign.

13. Went fishing for Reds (sockeye salmon) with Pat Walsh.










Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wasilla Youth Visit Dillingham, June 24, 2013

Youth from Sacred Heart Wasilla, Alaska ventured on a community service retreat to Holy Rosary in Dillingham, Alaska. For pictures and information: or, then click on "We are now on Facebook." Fr Scott

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wasilla via Lake Clark Pass: Retiring Our Cherokee

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor Holy Rosary Parish, Saint Theresa Mission, and Saint Paul Mission

Here is a picture of the West entrance to Lake Clark Pass as our Cherokee Warrior II was completing its Mission in Bristol Bay. The plane is now parked in Space A5 at the Wasilla airport.

July 5, 2011 I finally got an opening in the weather to retire our Cherokee Warrior II 160 horsepower aircraft to Wasilla, my new assignment. The aircraft has served Bristol Bay from November of 2005 to July of 2011. It is now parked in Space A-5 at the Wasilla Airport.

The weather was not as great as I had expected. There was cirrus clouds from Dillingham to Illiamna and then from the East side of Lake Clark pass to Anchorage.

From Dillingham to Illiamna I had to make a decision. I was down to 600 feet with poor visibility. I was either going to turn around or climb through the clouds. Since Illiamna airport was reported as clear below 10, 000 feet, I climbed up through about 500 feet of cloud cover. This is something a VFR pilot does not like to do because once above the clouds if one loses and engine, you can’t set up an emergency landing because you can’t see the ground.

Once in Illiamna the clouds cleared out enough to where I could get back underneath of them at about 1200 feet. I flew over Lake Clark and pointed toward the West entrance to the pass.

West End of Lake Clark Pass, July 5th, 2011. I had to decide at the last minute if the weather was good enough to enter the narrow and some time dangerous pass.

You can also view the video if you CLICK HERE.

Just after I entered the West end of Lake Clark Pass. The view was simply breath taking.

You can also view the video if you CLICK HERE.

Here is where the communication gets to be confusing. I was listening to an aircraft asking about the weather in Lake Clark Pass on frequency 122.2. There are two other frequencies when traveling Lake Clark Pass, 121.1 and 121.2. One is suppose to be used for the West end and another for the East. I have never been really sure when to change frequencies or which one to use, i.e. is it used flying East and West or do you use one frequency at the West end and as you near the East end change frequencies. To make it even more confusing, the general aviation frequency in the bush is 122.9.

So, the bottom line, there are four frequencies that a person could be on when flying through the narrow and dangerous Lake Clark Pass. The problem is one never knows if there is any traffic in the pass because everyone is monitoring a different frequency. This is an accident waiting to happen.

Example: I made another decision to fly through the Pass. The ceiling was variable between 1000 and 1500 at the West end. The aircraft that was behind me caught up to me and I saw him about 500 feet directly below me. I could not get him on the radio. I tried a couple of frequencies and gave up. I prayed he did not decide to climb up and hit me because I do not think he saw me.

Here I am talking about the aircraft below me:

You can also view the video if you CLICK HERE,

I finally made it to Wasilla after scud running across Big River Lakes and Beluga. The weather started to clear around Big Lake.

I flew Back to Dillingham on Penair and am awaiting my final departure back to Wasilla July 31.

Fly safe out there!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fr. Nelson's Alaskan Flying Adventure

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor Holy Rosary, Saint Theresa Mission, Saint Paul Mission

Some highlights of Fr. Nelson's visit were two missed approaches into Ekuk, Alaska, moving a wood stove into Saint Peter Fisherman in Clarks Point, blessing a fishing camp, and getting locked, not out, but INSIDE the airplane.

Fr. Nelson stands with three villagers Julian (left), Shay (right), and Mariano in front of Saint Peter the Fisherman in Clarks Point, June 17, 2011.

Fr. Nelson Marilag, who is from the Philippines and is on loan to the Archdiocese of Anchorage for one more year, checked out Holy Rosary Mission from June 15 to June 27, 2011. Fr. Nelson will return to the Philippines for a vacation for one month before starting his new assignment serving Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Saint Theresa Mission, and Saint Paul Mission (all the villages in Bristol Bay and the Surrounding area except Holy Rosary and Bristol Bay).

Two days after arriving, I flew Fr. Nelson in our Cherokee Warrior over to Clarks Point, twelve miles Southeast of Dillingham. After landing we had to move a small wood stove into Saint Peter the Fisherman Church so we could have some heat. It was still a bit chilly for Mass outside (about 40 degrees F.)

This picture reveals that the stove was just a bit heavier than we thought. Mariano Floresta donated the stove and hooked it up for us.

The next day we flew to Saint Theresa, a mission of Holy Rosary. Saint Theresa is located between King Salmon and Naknek. We had Mass at noon on Saturday, then returned the same day back to Dillingham (64 air miles).

Our next big flying adventure was June 24, 2011 when we flew to Ekuk then to Clarks Point. Ekuk is a small fishing village just up the beach about a mile from Clarks Point.

Here is a picture Ekuk, a small village that closes in the winter but thrives during the salmon run.

The runway in Ekuk is very NARROW. It took me three attemps to actually land our Warrior II. During the first approach I was too high (truth be known, I probably missed because I was fooling around with the video camera and lost my concentration and focus), the second too fast, and the third, I nailed it.

I have a video of my first missed approach into this small Alaskan Village and here it is!

You can also see the video by CLICKING HERE.

During the third attempt at the narrow runway I asked Fr. Nelson if he was "OK." He said he was. Later I found out he was oblivious to my missed approaches. He thought I was just showing him the village from the air.

Just after landing in Ekuk, Fr. Nelson stands in front of our Cherokee (N81809) for a picture.

Katie Anderson shows us a couple of nice sized King Salmon she caught in the net the day before.

Here Fr. Nelson kneels inside an authentic Yupik steam house in the village of Ekuk.

Fr. Nelson stands near fish that are being "glazed." After the salmon gets a hard coat on the outside (glazing) it will be moved inside an enclosed smoker to be smoked.

After blessing the Anderson/Ingram fishing camp and having a great cup of coffee with June, Katie, Josh, and Kara, we went back to the airplane and took off from the very soft, narrow, and short runway.

A couple minutes after taking off from Ekuk, we touched down on the gravel strip at Clarks Point. It looked like a freeway compared to Ekuk's.

For Fr. Nelson and I, the great Alaskan adventure did not end in Clarks Point. After finishing in Clarks Point, we climbed in the airplane shut the door, and something broke. We were stuck inside and could not get out of the plane! We flew back to Dillingham, parked at Tucker Aviation, and when Tommy Tucker came out of his office I shouted at him through my three inch-by-two inch side window, "Tommy, please let us out, we cannot open our door!!" Dave, Tommy's mechanic, came out, took the door off, and fixed the cotter pin that had sheered off. All's well that ends well.

Fly Safe out there!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lake Clark Pass, Alaska: Round Trip in One Day

By Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor, Holy Rosary Mission

Monday, May 30, I decided to fly to Anchorage in our Cherokee Warrior II. It was a perfect day, blue sky and no wind! I was planning to spend the night.

It took me about three and one half hours to get to Anchorage. After on the ground for a couple hours, I checked the weather and found out that a storm had changed directions and was heading for Bristol Bay.

I filed a flight plan and was back in the air heading toward Dillingham by 1:30 PM. My wheels touched down three hours later. Six hours of flying can be draining and I was not looking forward to it. But the good weather, beautiful scenery, and calm winds made it stress free and the six hours "flew" by.

Here is a video of Lake Clark Pass, west end, just before emerging from the pass. The beautiful greenish blue water of Lake Clark can be seen.

You can also see the video if you CLICK HERE.

I woke up the next morning, looked out the window, and sure enough, fog, mist, and 30 knot winds.

Fly safe out there!