Monday, March 22, 2010

Shower: Preparing For Youth Retreat

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor Holy Rosary Mission

Preparing for our second annual non-electronic community service youth retreat has been high on our priority list these last few months. Mainly, the installation of a shower in the basement of the church at Holy Rosary in Dillingham.

For the second year in a row, 12 youth from Anchorage parsihes, along with three adults, will arrive at Holy Rosary Monday, July 5, 2010, for a five day stay, ending Friday, July 9th.

Last year 6 girls stayed in the basement of the rectory and 6 guys in the basement of the church. The girls were luckier in that they could use the shower in the rectory, but the boys had to either wait or go down to the harbor and use the pay showers.

Although the showering system all worked out fine, we decided to incrcrease our star rating from a 2 stars to a solid 3. So we raised some money and are installing a shower.

Here is some shots of the work that has been performed by Scott Kinhg of King Carpentry, aided by our own Pat Durbin.

The cement floor actually had to be Jack-Hammered out and the drain uncovered.

Although a square shower was ordered, there was a mistake in shipping and we received a rounded model. This is Alaskan Bush living at its best. When it comes to construction we have to make lemonade out of lemons.

It fits in rather nicely!

New and old Technology: Scott King of King's Carpentry used the latest technology in plumbing. He spliced new high tech tubing onto the copper tubing. And the new splices for copper tubing are revolutionary!

Sheet rock is never fun to install.

Mud and tape have to be put along the seams and then sanded. Scott King says he does this two or three times before painting.

Scott King seals up the seams of the sheet-rock with mud before painting.

Ahhh, almost done! The final product will be done before the Holy Thursday celebration, i.e. a couple more coats of mud, white primer, clean-up, touch-up, and painting.

Here is the completed shower.

I hope those from the Bristol Bay communities will get involved with the Anchorage youth retreat this year. All are welcome!

Thank you to all the Holy Rosary parishioners for your patience while the shower was being installed and to Pat Durbin for sharing his expertise and donating his time!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flying to Kokhanok, Alaska

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor Holy Rosary Mission

On a crisp cold snowy morning in March, 2010, I flew to Kokhanok, Alaska.

Here is our Cherokee Warrior II parked at the Kokhanok, Alaska airport, March 16, 2010.

When I fly into a village for the first time I am always on a reconnaissance mission. When venturing into new territory as a flying Catholic Priest, there are a few things I need to feel comfortable with before I actually visit a village to offer Mass. So I drop in unexpectedly just to get an idea of the friendliness of the villagers and the need for the sacraments.

On this trip I flew to Kokhanok (airport code PFKK). The village is actually about 116 miles from Dillingham but I took this picture of my GPS in route. With a 25 knott head-wind it took me an hour and a half to get there and an hour to return. For more information about this small Alaskan Village, CLICK HERE.

Believe it or not, some villages will not let you come into their village unless you have a pre-arranged meeting with one of their residents. For example, one religious group without permission entered a village and basically terrorized it with damnation and hellfire. Most villages, however, are friendly and open to visitors, as was Kokhanok.

On a reconnaissance mission, it is nice to know the surrounding village terrain. On this trip I learned that in order to reach Kokhanok, Alaska from Dillingham, there are a few mountains I have to watch out for. Using the GPS runway 06 approach, I was able to clear these mountains safely at 4,400 feet. As an alternative, I could have flown around these mountains and hugged the shoreline of Lake Illiamna. Below is a picture of the mountains I flew over to get to Kokhanok from Dillingham.

When checking out a potential village, the location of the runway is valuable information. This is important because in a single engine plane I do not like to spend time over large bodies of water, i.e. if the engine fails I land in the water and freeze to death, as opposed to taking my chances on solid ground. If the weather goes down on my journey to an airport I want to know if I can safely navigate through the mountains without having to go too far out into the water. Kokhanok airport is in a safe location to approach from either the West (runway 06) or from the East (runway 24). I am approaching runway 06 from the West just after flying over the mountains at 4,400 feet.

I also like to check out the distance the airport is from the village. It is nice to know first hand how long I may have to walk if I cannot hitch a ride with one of the natives. From the airport to the village is at least a mile, possibly a mile and a half. On this trip a native Kokhanokan by the name of John gave me a ride to the village on his four-wheeler. I hoofed it back. Here John stands by his four-wheeler after dropping me off at the school.

All gravel runways are not created equal. The gravel runway at Kokhanok, I realized after landing, gets soft when things start to thaw out. I knew this because, although things were cold and frozen, there were two to three inch hard ruts all up and down the length of the small strip. The tires on my Cherokee Warrior are small and my landing was a little tenuous.

Here are a few more pictures of the beautiful and quaint Alaskan village. The first is a typical dwelling in Kokhanok, including dogs, snow machines, a satellite dish, and a few burning barrels thrown in for good measure.

Although there are no Catholic Church buildings in Kokhanok, several villages in Bristol Bay have a Russian Orthodox church.

Away from the Lake Illiamna shore, several houses are nestled into the thick trees in the village.

Most villages, although very remote, somehow find a way to import heavy equipment, either on a plane or barge. There are no roads connecting any of the villages I fly into.

Here are some of the houses along Lake Illiamna. In a couple months those frozen and snow filled boats will be catching fish.

Safe flying out there!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Flying to Ekwok, Alaska

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor of Holy Rosary Mission

After having my Cherokee Warrior II plugged in all night, and after shoveling snow for an hour, I was ready to take off wing covers, do a thorough preflight inspection, and climb into the cockpit. I was airborne by 9:30 AM on this winter morning on Friday March 12, 2010.

Here is a picture of our airplane just before I took off for Ekwok.

The morning I decided to fly to Ekwok, Alaska the weather was clear but cold. It was 17 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, not including the chill factor. The wind was blowing at least 10 knots. One of my rules is not to fly if the temperature is colder than 20 degrees below zero (not counting the chill factor).

While doing my engine run-up before lifting off, my GPS said that Ekwok (airport identifier KEK) was about 37 miles Northeast from Dillingham (airport identifier PADL). For more information about the Yupik village of Ekwok, CLICK HERE.

Winter flying is both rewarding and costly. It is rewarding because cold temperatures make the air great on climb-outs. In no time at all I was up to 1000 feet. In warmer weather it takes forever to reach 1000. It is costly because in sub-zero temperatures things tend to break, or put another way, I tend to break things.

This particular morning I broke my sunglasses, which I had cherished for over 20 years. Like an old friend, these sun glasses were a part of me. When I opened them up to put on they just snapped. Bummer for me. In extreme cold temperatures I have cracked my fuselage by trying to tap off the ice, accidentally nudged my compass with my elbow and shattered the mount, broke the Plexiglas over my fuel gages, and basically pushed the plug-in for my engine through the mounting bracket. Breaking things out in the bush does not come cheap, either.


Approaching Ekwok from the South, I got my first glimpse of the Ekwok airport, which is located next to the Nushagak River. I am lined up with runway 020.

A few miles out I snapped another picture.

The small village of Ekwok is located on the left side of the runway near the South end of runway 02.

Quaint, quiete, cold, and beautiful. Some of the houses in the village can be seen here.

Taking off from runway 02, I took a picture of runway 200 after turning back to the Southwest toward Clarks Point. I planned to stop at Clarks Point for a couple of hours to eat lunch at the school and give communion to some of the Catholics, before returning to Dillingham.

Here is one final shot of a few houses in the village of Ekwok.

Safe flying out there!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Alaskan Priests Gather for the 2nd Time in History

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor Holy Rosary Mission

This is only the second time in the history of the Archdiocese of Anchorage that all the priests from all three dioceses came together. The first time was when Pope John Paul II visited Anchorage in the 1980’s. Priests from the dioceses of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau met in Anchorage March 8-10 for convocation and the celebration of Archbishop Hurley’s 40th year as a bishop (59 years as priest).

Priests stayed at the Marriott’s Fairfield and the conferences were held next door at the Crowne Plaza. In the past the Archdiocese of Anchorage, without the other two dioceses, had the convocation in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Monsignor Stephen Rossetti presented several talks about “What makes a happy priest?” During the discussion I was able to take several pictures of priests from all three dioceses. Approximately sixty priests, who are ministering in the State of Alaska, were present. Most of these priests are currently serving temporarily in the three Alaskan dioceses.

In addition, there are several pictures of the Mass we celebrated, Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at Our Lady of Guadeloupe for Archbishop Hurley’s 40th anniversary.


Here are the names of all of the priests who are currently ministering in the state of Alaska.

The priests line up to process in for the Mass at Our Lady of Guadeloupe. The Mass was in honor of the Most Reverend Francis T. Hurley. Archbishop Hurley celebrated his 40th year as a bishop.

The Most Reverend Edward Burns (bishop of Juneau), the Most Reverend Donald J. Kettler (bishop of Fairbanks), and our own Most Reverend Roger L. Schwietz, OMI process in.

Father Eric Wiseman looks on as during the Homily given by Archbishop Hurley.

Deacon Harry Moore lifts up the Gospel book as the bishops process in. Also in procession, to speak about Archbishop Hurley's 40 years as a bishop, was Bishop William Skylstad of the Diocese of Spokane.

Archbishop Hurley delivers a homily about suffering and forgiveness.

What makes a priest happy? Monsignor Stephen Rossetti opens up the discussion.

Father Vincent Beuzer, SJ comments on the joys of priesthood.

Recently incardinated (is now a permanent member of the Archdiocese of Anchorage) Father Vincent Blanco, pastor of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, looks on during the presentation. My home parish, Our Lady of Guadeloupe, donates money to our heating fuel fund.

From Left to right, Fr. Tom Gills of the Air Force, Tom Lilly of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, and Father Scott Garrett of the Archdiocese of Anchorage pose for a picture during the convocation in Anchorage.

Father Tom Lilly (pastor of SEAS in Anchorage) chats with a fellow priest. Father Tom and I graduated from the Mount Angel Seminary at the same time and were ordained together May 24, 2003. SEAS contributes to our heating fuel fund at Holy Rosary.

Father Tom Killeen, who is helping out the Archdiocese on Anchorage in Cordova, stands up and makes a point during the discussion. Saint Joseph in Cordova donates $100 per month to our heating fuel fund.

Father Steve Moore, former pastor of Holy Rosary Mission in Dillingham, Alaska listens intently to our discussion. Father Moore is the pastor of Saint Benedict and is helping with Saint Andrew in Eagle River. Both parishes contribute to our heating fuel fund.

Father Scott Settimo, Diocese of Juneau, returns to our table after a break. Scott and I were class mates at Mount Angel Seminary.

Father Ross Tozzi (left) and Father Sean Thomson, shown below, were my class mates at Mount Angel seminary. They are both incardinated into the Diocese of Fairbanks. Father Ross graduated a year before me and Sean a couple of years after. Every time I need a favor from Father Ross he knows its coming because I always address him as "my buddy ole pal."

Father Peter Gorges, Diocese of Juneau, celebrated mass for me at Saint Theresa in King Salmon.

Father Luz Flores, one of the two Filipino priests who incardinated into the Archdiocese of Anchorage this past year, is the pastor for Big Lake and Willow.

Another fellow seminarian, Father Edmund Penisten, is a diocesan priest for Juneau. Ed's Parents, Ruth and Mike, live in Eagle, River.

Father Dominic DeMaio, OP, is a Dominican who is on loan to us from their community in California. All the Dominicans at Holy Family Cathedral are on temporary assignment with the Archdiocese of Anchorage. The Dominicans have ministered at the Anchorage Cathedral for over 50 years.

Below are the Dominicans Father Francis Le, OP (Pastor of the Cathedral, right), and Father Vincent Kebler, OPo, and Brother Dominic David Maichrowicz, OP.

Father Francis Le, OP, speaks about an experience he had during his priesthood.

Father Dan Hebert, one of the ten diocesan priests assigned to the Archdiocese of Anchorage, is the pastor of Holy Cross in Anchorage. Holy Cross donates one percent of their monthly collection to Holy Rosary parish in Dillingham to help us pay for our heating fuel.

Father Bill Hanrahan, middle, is a retired military priest who resides in Seward, Alaska. He has helped out our mission for the past two years during Holy Week. Father Bill is also a pilot.

Our neighbor in Bethel, which is actually in the Fairbanks Diocese, is Father Chuck Peterson, SJ (Jesuit). Fr. Peterson and Spruce Lynch (our musician at Holy Rosary) knew each other when Spruce was living in Bethel.

Here are the big three looking cool and casual. From left to right are Bishop Burns of Juneau, Archbishop Schwietz, and Bishop Kettler of Fairbanks.

Enjoying himself, Archbishop Schwietz smiles as he listens to our speaker Monsignor Stephen Rossetti.

Retired Archbishop Hurley attended the convocation as well. We had a lot to talk about because we are both pilots and we have both flown in the Bristol Bay area.

The animated Bishop Burns shares a few comments with our group.

Father Al (AJ) Fisher visited Holy Rosary Dillingham three years ago. I celebrated Christmas mass at Saint Theresa in King Salmon, while, 64 air miles away, Father Al celebrated Christmas mass at Holy Rosary in Dillingham. It was a good thing Al was their because the weather was too bad to fly in that evening.

Another fellow seminarian is Father Thomas Weise, Pastor at the Cathedral in Juneau. Father Tom is an avid outdoorsman and a great cook, besides being a dynamic priest.

Father Tom Brundage (pastor of Saint Michael in Palmer), left, is the temporary canon lawyer for our Archdiocese. He is the reason I am able to stay the Pastor of Holy Rosary Mission out here in Bristol Bay. Hopefully we can persuade Father Brundage to stay here, well, forever! Saint Michael Parish contributes $150 per month to our heating fuel fund. Father Tom Lilly, pastor of Saint Elizabeth, is on the right.

Monsignor Rossetti drifts around and listens to the discussion. Below are Father Tom Gills (Air Force) and Father Dominic DeMaio, OP.

Father Pale is another one of my seminary buds. Yes, he is from Samoa. He was visiting our Archdiocese.

Father Nelson Marilag is a Filipino priest on loan to us for four years. Father Nelson is currently assistant pastor at Saint Michael in Palmer.

Father Fred Bugarin, pastor of Saint Anthony in Anchorage, was my supervisor when I was on pastoral year in Kodiak, 2001. Father Fred was also, at one time, the pastor of Holy Rosary in Dillingham.

Below, Father Frank Reitter slips through the sacristy at Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Father Frank has worked with our Diocese on and off for the past several years.

Another major contributor to our heating fuel fund is Father Dick Tero. Father Tero is the pastor of Sacred Heart in Seward, Alaska. One of the ten actual diocesan priests assigned to our archdiocese, Father Tero also served a few years as pastor of Holy Rosary out here in Dillingham.

Here are a few very nice pictures taken by Ron Nicholl, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadeloupe,

We thank God for all of the wonderful priests we have in Alaska. May we always love our people as God loves us!