by Bishop Robert Vasa
Editor’s Note: Still praying to find Charity in my heart towards those wayward nuns, thus another post to explain what I would like to write today.
Mea culpa, Sophia.
BEND — This past weekend I was blessed to enjoy one of the most scenic and delightful areas of eastern Oregon.
The trip was not excessively long, only about 400 miles for the weekend, and all of it exceedingly pleasant. The trip was to St. Elizabeth of Hungary at John Day and its two missions, St. Anne at Monument and St. Katherine between Dale and Long Creek.
There were confirmations at both St. Elizabeth and St. Anne with Mass at St. Katherine Church. Monument is located on the North Fork of the John Day River and the church, perhaps the smallest in the diocese, overlooks the river. The drive from Long Creek to Monument is not the most severely contortioned road in eastern Oregon but it certainly qualifies among the top 10. Because Monument sits on the edge of the John Day Fossil Bed area, the surrounding geography shares the same extraordinary features. The remoteness of the area and the ruggedness of the terrain precludes a large population base and so there were eight people at Mass in Monument and possibly 10 at Dale.
One of the interesting developments at John Day is the announcement by the Aryan Nation, a while-supremacist group, of their intention to build a new base of operations and presumably a camp to recruit and train members of their organization. The news reports indicate that they have met with an overwhelmingly negative response from the community. Good for them! It is important to note that the Catholic priest stationed at John Day is black. He is one of eight Nigerian priests from the Sons of Mary Mother of Mercy Religious Community serving in the Diocese of Baker. He admitted that it is a bit frightful for him to consider what it means for this group to be moving into his parish, but was very clear with me that his fear was a natural human fear that did not in any way shake his trust in God. It is interesting to note that this group, which has some rather severe views on race and religion, is bemoaning the perceived discrimination against them. Now that is remarkable. I expressed to the people my gratitude for their willingness to stand up for what they know to be the truth and encouraged them to make it known that members of any race or religion are welcome but that some ideas are simply unacceptable. More…