Telluride, Colorado, a quaint ski town nestled in a box canyon 8,750 feet in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, is home to the intimate little St Patrick Church. There are only twenty pews in the church and fourteen of them face each other.
Services are fairly casual with many visitors bundled up in winter clothes. Some Masses are a mix of Spanish and English.
St Patrick is the church I attend when visiting my son in Telluride, and each year I’ve been there the service is performed by a deacon. Deacon Michael Doehrman presides over the communion service with enthusiasm and grace. His homilies are insightful and inspiring.
Deacon Mike has served for 30 years. The church’s only priest, Rev. Nathanael Foshage, who is in his seventies, travels 200 miles to say one of the weekend Masses. Deacon Mike said that considering both of their ages, the diocese is desperately in need of priests and deacons.
In my diocese, we have a number of priests from countries such as Nigeria, India, and Mexico. These missionaries are filling a need for priests unfulfilled by Americans. It seems that we seek spiritual nourishment within the Church but few are able or willing to serve in that capacity.
While writing the Seven Principles of Sainthood, Sister Barbara Doehrty, SP, pointed out to me that St Theodora and her companions had such an intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament partly because they did not have the opportunity to receive the Eucharist every day. Much like today in areas such as Telluride, priests covered a wide area of the wilderness and were not available to offer Sunday Mass every week, much less daily communion. And at that time the consecrated hosts were not allowed to be distributed by anyone other than priests.
We Catholics lean heavily on the Sacraments as well as Scripture and Tradition. I can’t imagine not being able to participate in the Mass or receive the Eucharist or other sacraments, can you?
As our priests and deacons continue to age, who will serve? Who will offer us the Mass, Eucharist, and other sacraments? Let’s pray that this situation is remedied in a way that God sees best for our Church.
©2013, Mary K. Doyle