Frozen Puck

CMIC paid for my seminary formation, since I could not work in Canada as a US citizen at the time. I was part of Bishop O’Grady’s Frontier Apostolate (1977-1980), a seminarian (1980-1988), and have been ordained for 35 years.. My estate will be left to CMIC, paying back four-fold my seminary education.

Once, while driving north to the Yukon border, the thought occurred to me that I should volunteer my priestly service to the communities north of Terrace, BC. I was the only Catholic priest between Terrace and the Yukon border, 900 km of priest-less territory! When I arrived in Prince George, I visited the bishop and told him of my inspiration to assist the Whitehorse Diocese by celebrating Mass in the communities located in northern BC.

The drive north on Highway 37 brings you to the communities of Iskut, Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek (TC). Driving to TC was a feat in itself, as the road there has, shall I say, a few challenges! Perhaps calling it the ‘Grand Canyon of Canada’ might help your imagination. The elevation of Dease Lake is just over 800 m. From there, you descend down to Telegraph Creek which is more or less near sea level. In some places, the road has a 20-degree pitch.

Perhaps I should begin in Terrace, BC where my parish was located. From Terrace to Telegraph Creek (TC) is a 1,500 km round trip. Just to give the reader a sense, I would leave Terrace in the winter months just after daybreak to arrive in Iskut just as darkness came. Iskut was my first stop on Saturday; the next day I would travel to Dease Lake and TC and on Monday I would drive home, leaving TC around 9:30 am, as the sand truck would make the mountain pass safer at 9:00 am.

During my first visit to TC, an isolated, predominantly Indigenous community, I celebrated Mass with about 20-25 people. It was my third Sunday Mass and the largest attendance of the 3 communities. It was a winter night, cold enough to freeze water. Lorgan and Sheila Bob came to Church with their 2 grand-daughters. In the foyer, the children were kicking a small piece of ice on the floor, it was flat on one side and round on the other, like a half circle. I joined in the fun, as I often do with children. We kicked the ice ‘puck’ around until Mass began and after Mass, we kicked it again. I was having a blast! Finally, I was left alone to close up the building. I picked up the ice puck and marvelled on how it was perfectly shaped, flat on one side and perfectly round, without blemish, on the other. Then I noticed that the Holy Water font was empty. On further examination, the ice puck fit perfectly in the empty font!

Dear Lord, forgive me for kicking frozen holy water. I say ‘forgive’ with a smirk on my face, as I’m sure the Lord had a chuckle too, taking great delight in his children (big and small) being children … “Let them come … as the Kingdom of God belongs to them.”