Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Youth Visit Holy Rosary Dillingham, Alaska

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

We at Holy Rosary have been blessed with twelve youth who arrived from Anchorage, Monday, July 6. Three adults arrived with them. Five of the youth are from Saint Benedict, one from OLG, and six from SEAS. Twelve, for some strange reason, seems significant. The Catholic youth participated in a number of community service events.

I introduce to you the first Catholic Youth group from Anchoarage to ever visit Holy Rosary in Dillingham. Here they are from left to right: Matt B., Daniel D., Tony B., Bob McMorrow, Chase M., Jordan P., Alec M., Briana T., Kate M., Christin A., Kassi M., Cierra H., Ryan A., Cindy Martinez, and Deacon Dez Martinez (CLICK ON ALL PICTURES TO MAKE LARGER).


The youth were flown in from Anchorage on a Penair Saab. Parishioners donated mileage for the airfare and Penair donated a few tickets for the adults. They start to de-plane in Dillingham. Susan and Gorden Isaacs at Beaver Creek Bed and Breakfast graciously donated a Chevy Van and we used it to drive around Dillingham.

Bob McMorrow, the youth minister, helps in getting the pick-up loaded up with all of the gear and food.

They all walk the short distance from the airport to Holy Rosary. Holy Rosary is basically the first driveway on the right after leaving the airport.

At low tide, Tony and Kate, who just couldn't wait to get muddy, went out to repair the subsistence fishing gear. The floating rubber ball had come off so they tied it back on.

"Ride em Cowboy," part of the crew helped to pull out trees to clear a space for a sign and statue. Also, the corner is dangerous when trying to pull out of the Holy Rosary driveway. Clearing the trees helped the visibility.


Our largest community service project was at the Dillingham cemetery. Janice Shilanski had asked if we would clean it up. It was completely over grown with raspberry bushes, weeds, and grass. Here is a before shot. We also stopped by Pat Durbin's house to give him some help pulling up his old carpet and loading up his pick-up so he could make a dump run. Here are a few shots of the cemetery:

Matt, with rake in hand, starts the clean-up.

Alec, Cindy, and Kassi haul of weeds, bushes, and grass.

Well done my good and faithful servants!


Before flying off to Clarks Point for Mass, Music, 4-wheelers, potluck, and all kinds of fun, the youth preflighted our Cherokee Warrior II. The 12 youth flew over with Van Air and the adults, Bob, Deacon Dez, and Cindy flew with me in the Warrior.
Pilot Daniel and Co-Pilot Briana prepare to take flight. Just kidding mom!

Pilot to co-pilot, CLEAR PROP! Kate and Matt ready to start engines.

Matt from Van Air lands at Clarks Point with six of the youth. Matt and Louisa are a husband wife team who I rely on heavily to fly me around when the weather is bad.

A little material for the cover of the "Catholic Anchor." We all posed in front of Saint Peter the Fisherman" at Clarks Point. We were honored to have Louise Gardner, the elder of the village, join us for Mass. Chelsea, our guide, is kneeling beside her. Several others from the village joined us for Mass, including Liz, Emilia, Dennis, and Freddy. Liz, standing behind Chelsea is a parishioner in King Salmon Naknek, where she lives with her husband Ed. Freddie, the son of Dennis and Emilia, is kneeling to the left of Louise.

The youth have a little fun with Bob, the youth leader/minister.

Dennis and Emilia invited us to partake in the fish they had hanging in their smoke house. YUM! Even thought the fishing season was in full swing, they took time from their nets to make us feel welcome. Thanks so much Dennis and Emilia!

Everyone got to ride a 4-wheeler up and down the beach. Only one mishap, Kate fell off, but we managed to patch her back together. Fortunately, Dennis was an EMT. Here is Kate (Left) along with Briana and Kassi ready to zoom down the beach.

Mariano, unofficially the leader of the village, stopped by on the way out to his net to chat. Mariano takes care of the church for us and usually cooks food for meals after Mass. We happened to come at a time when there was nearly a record run of salmon so most everyone was out fishing and super tired. From left to right, Dennis, Emilia, Mariano, and a fisherman helping Mariano.


Before we got started a few of us went out to the plane, refueled it, and tied it down. Matt was quick to pick up on the tie-down knott so he showed Chase and Ryan how it was done. We then took a quick tour through the FAA flight service station.

During our visit to the Senior Center, we had Mass, talked with the seniors, had lunch, and did a skit. We ran back to the rectory so the girls could get some nail polish for a couple of the seniors. Here Jordan makes one Senior's day!

Having some more fun at the Senior center:

Talking with the Seniors:

The soup and sandwiches at the Senior Center hit the spot!

Then we had a tour of the Peter Pan Cannery, which was a pretty big hit with everyone. They even gave us a bowl of salmon chowder (great stuff) afterward.

Gramma's, an assisted living home, was next on our list. We sang songs and performed a skit. Angeli, a parishioner who works at Gramma's in the summer, paved the way for us. Thank you Angeli!

After the long day, at least it seemed long to me, we went back to the church and the Holy Rosary Parishioners had a potluck for us. The highlight is when Dr. Dan O'Connell, M.D. walked down the Mr. Alaska ramp between the tables, did a little spin, and walked back. I dared him to do it, "If you do it, I'll do it." Unfortunately he did it. Cierra did a fantastic job as the announcer.

To top off the day, fire permit in hand, we started a bonfire right in the middle of the parking lot. It ended up being quite an event, so I was told (I was worn out and did not have the strength or energy to stay up for it). They plum wore me out!


The day began with reconciliation and adoration. Then we drove out to lake Aleknagik to have our final outing. Bernie and Brian joined us. Brian wanted to altar serve because it was the first time Holy Rosary had a Mass outdoors. Here, Brian and I set up for Mass.

Opening Hymn:

Let's go swimming in the ice cold hypothermic water!

After swimming, people start lining up for the lunch that Deacon Dez and Cindy set up for us. Bernie took care of the grill. From left to right, Bernie Venua, Kate, Briana, and Deacon Dez.

After lunch Bob McMorrow races Jordan out to the marker buoy. Unfortunately for Jordan, Bob won. One youth watches and says, "I am just a little smarter than that!"

Here a float plane full of fishermen, gear, and food lift off to go out to one of the lodges or the five lakes to the north.

Here is a final picture taken before leaving. Looks like they had a pretty good time.

The youth wait at the airport for the "All Aboard" call back to Anchorage. There was not shortage of group hugs. Also Christen led several games while waiting.

Our time spent together brought the community of Dillingham, our leaders, our youth, our parishioners, outlying villagers, and me, all a little closer to God. Thank you to all the youth for a fantastic, enlightening, Christ filled experience! See you next year.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Adventure at Fish Camp: Ekuk, Alaska

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

On a beautiful day in Bristol Bay, Wednesday, July 1, 2009, I decided to visit a few parishioners at Ekuk, Alaska. Ekuk is South of Dillingham about 14 miles. It is only inhabited in the summer when the King, Sockeye, and Silver salmon are running. It is in spitting distance of Clarks Point. Like all of the villages out here, there are no roads so traveling by car is not possible.

It was my first time landing on the small runway...if you could call it a runway. It was actually a very narrow, short, soft, road. Since it was my first attempt to land at Ekuk, I was on a reconnaissance mission to check out the runway. Normally, I land and walk around to check things out before I actually minister there, then I fly back to Dillingham and make arrangements for a mass, hence, no clerics. Looking back, I could kick myself for not wearing them.

After making a couple of passes I decided to land. It was touchy. I had to hit a spot on the runway exactly or I would have run into the bay. I landed and almost got stuck back-taxiing to a parking space.

In the right hand lower corner below is the narrow Ekuk runway and the cannery. As you can see, if one happened to to touch-down half way down the runway, one might end up in the drink before one stopped.

Walking to the Anderson/Ingram fish camp, I was picked up by a family and driven down the beach. I was not expecting to find them, but June and Katie were at fish camp with all of their family and friends. They were tired after catching thousands of pounds of Red (sockeye) salmon.

They invited me in, made me tea, and wanted me to bless the house. Like I said, I wished I had been more official and had worn my clerics. I don't feel comfortable ministering without the formal collar, please forgive me!

This is what many of the fish camps look like along the shore where the Nushigak runs into Bristol Bay. The fish camps are only used when the salmon are running.

From left to right, Fr. Scott (me), June (whose husband has another fish camp in another village), Josh, Kara, Katie, and a friend who helps with the fishing.

Another picture of the crew. Notice the drawing on the building.

One of the youth holds up a small duckling found out at the camp.

Here the wild duckling stares down the puppy. I think they like each other!

Katie really wanted the fish camp blessed, whether I had on my clerics or not. I made a feeble attempt, but successful one. Katie found s a type of bush that was perfect for the sprinkling. After I blessed the water, we were in business. We prayed together and I walked around blessing several dwellings in the fish camp.

Since the dirt-strip was so soft I could not turn around without getting stuck. It was also short and I wanted as much runway as possible in front of me when I took off. I had the gang pull my Cherokee Warrior out of its parking spot, and then we pushed it backward to the end of the runway.

Fly safe and hope you have a great fishing season, Fr. Scott