Monday, May 24, 2010

Typical Day at Holy Rosary Mission

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

As a priest who flys to remote Alaskan Villages in the largest Catholic Mission in the world, geographically that is, here is what a typical day might look like. Today is Wednesday, May 12th, 2010.

Getting up at 4:10 AM everyday allows for some quiet time to exercise, pray, and map out the day. By 7:00 AM I am ready to pull on my paint cloths and head across the parking lot to the church. First I boot up the computer and pay a few bills on-line through Wells Fargo Bill pay. Then I enter some receipts into Microsoft Money, answer my email, and head out the door.

Next I call the aviation weather at Kenai and get a weather briefing and file a flight plan for Clarks Point. It goes something like this: Tail number Cherokee N81809; type plane P28A; Departure time 11:00 AM; Route of flight, Dillingham, Clarks Point, Dillingham; Master Flight Plan on File with Kenai; three and a half hours in route (30 minute flight there and back, three hours on the ground); five hours of fuel on board; one person on board (me).

I paint for about two hours. Below it shows that I painted the deck and entry way. Some parishioners patched up the bottom right front of the church with some wood siding.

I then walk back to the rectory, put on my clerics, and drive our 1995 Ford Pick-up the short distance to our Cherokee Warrior II, which is parked at the Dillingham Airport behind the DOT building.

While perfoming the preflight inspection I pay particular attention to a new and larger nose wheel that I had the A&P Mechanic, Dave of Tucker Aviation, install the day before. I bought the tire from Mat at VanAir, who just purchased a new Cherokee Six, changed out his tires to bigger ones, and sold me the one he took off. It lifted the prop of our Warrior II off the ground an additional four inches. This will prevent fewer rocks from nicking the propeller when landing on gravel strips and add to the over-all life of the propeller.

The old wheel that was taken off was a 500-5, which was a few inches smaller than the 600-5 I had installed. Now, all three tires are the same size. Below is a picture of the smaller nose tire we took off.

Here is our Cherokee Warrior II just after replacing a small nose wheel with a larger one:

After completing a thorough preflight I am in the air right on schedule. I land at Clarks Point, where the village has invited me to a special End of the School Year celebration at the Clarks Point School. I was picked up by Tom on his four-wheeler and taken up to the school.

After a nice potluck, I set up for Mass, villagers gather, and they sit in the bleachers in the gymnasium. Quite a mix of religions show up: Russian Orthodox, Moravian, Mormon, Catholic. Below, Betty Gardiner stands and reads the First Reading.

I get a glimpse of the baby girl I will be baptizing in a few weeks. This is Justine’s second child, I baptized little Alex a couple of years ago.

After the Mass in the gym, I take communion to one of the elders in the village, Louise Gardener. Next I check out the church, Saint Peter the Fisherman. Judy George and Mariano Floresta had just cleaned it up, dusted, patched up some windows, swept the floor, and installed a wood stove. The Church has not been used all winter because there is no heat. I usually offer mass in a house during the winter. With the new wood stove installed, maybe we will be able to use Saint Peter in the winter! Next week we will definately be celebrating Mass in the chruch.

A cleaned up Saint Peter the Fisherman after a long winter:

Finally, I walk back to the airplane, which is parked about a mile and a half from the center of the village of Clarks Point. I fly the short 12 miles across the bay back to Dillingham, close my flight plan, re-fuel, tie the Cherokee down, un-load my mass kit, and head back to the Rectory.

After fielding a few phone calls and talking with our handy man Pat Durbin, I drive to the post office, deposit some donations at the Wells Fargo Bank, go to the grocery store, and return home. I make a small dinner, read for a couple hours, and am in Bed by 8:00 PM. I am ready for another Great Alaskan Adventure!

Fly Safe out there!

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