Saturday, September 25, 2021

Old Yeller

Six years ago this week, the Church held a World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and Pope Francis was coming to town. Me and my seminarian buddies wanted to go, but we thought simply flying out would be lame. So we asked our Blessed Mother for an old school bus and She provided.

It was on this project that I really began to understand the thirst of desire. We had planned in the spring to go the bus route, but by fall we had no bus. I would have gladly given up on the effort, but the desire in my heart wouldn't let me. It was so subtle, yet so demanding. I looked and looked for the right bus, but to no avail. One day, two days before I headed back to seminary, I was driving down South Flat in Worland and spotted a bus at a distance sitting beside a guy's shop. I thought what the heck and drove in there. Sitting in the weeds was our bus. I knew it from the moment I saw it. The only thing left to do was convince the owner to sell it to us. Our Blessed Mother and the Rosary took care of that.

And so we named it after Her.

My boys were quite happy when I showed up that fall with our ticket to Philly.

The first thing we did was rearrange the seats.

We figured a drain in the back corner would be handy too.

Of course you can't road a school bus to Philly without an air horn. My brother Luke came through with one off his feed truck.

Mission accomplished. It took about 40 hours, day and night, to get from Denver to Philadelphia. We only had one causality, one bro flew home.

Once back at school we used to pull it in the court yard and use it as a hangout. We'd play cards and chill and once it got cold we stuck a wood stove in the corner to knock the edge off.

After seminary, she continued to follow me around. We used it at St. Stephens Indian Mission for trips here and there.

I brought her to Gillette and rocked it a time or two.

But eventually it was time to pass her on. Using it once a year didn't justify the expense of keeping her operational. Andy from NE is now her new owner. Take care of her son.

Nothing but gratitude.

It's been a fun ride with old yeller. But life's about letting go. Our Blessed Mother proved a generous distributer of God’s graces during this project. Though I'm letting go of the bus, I'm maintaining a dependance upon Her. Totus Tuus Virgo Maria!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Day in the Sun

With the first day of fall upon us, it was imperative to go up into the Big Horns and get some fresh air. The southern end of the mountains was our destination and Dick Williams from Casper was my trail boss.

This area, known as Red Wall on Willow Creek, was a side of the Horns I had yet to see. Bucket list, check.

My heart leaped for joy as we crossed into county 20.

This leg of the journey is called Rough Lock Hill. Rough locking a wagon is when it was so steep that they locked up the rear wheels, usually with a log, and skidded down the slope. Tougher than the rest. 

Can't beat a good two track through golden aspens.

Which led right into the Williams' cabin. They built this cabin, along with two others near by, in 1974. It was a project undertaken by the three amigos, friends who banded together to develop this land on the Middle Fork of the Powder River up Outlaw Canyon. Dick spent three months on the building crew that year. It was a nice break from law school. Job well done partner.

Pretty cool construction. The cedar logs were pre-cut and are still tight as a wedge today.

Dick and his late brother Barry, have been the stewards of the cabin since their parents passed away. Slowly the next generation is beginning to take the reins and finding as much joy in it as they have.

Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary...

Not a bad view off the front deck.

Thanks for the tour Dick. I saw new country and made a good friend. Keep up the Good work. The Church could use a few more cowboys like you.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Back to School

This morning the parish staff had an off campus pastoral planning meeting at Gillette College. While there I took the opportunity to snoop around a bit.

Gillette College just recently seceded from Sheridan College. One of the hallmarks of this school is their tech department. 

My buddy Dagen Geis just started the diesel program and is loving it. They put him right to work tearing down this 3456 Cat.

After he puts it back together they'll put it to the test on this dino.

The school also prides itself in their welding department.

As well as their machining department.

This is my kind of college.

I think tech ed should be part of seminary formation. Knowing how to weld and tear down a Cat is vital to understanding Christology. 

Say Something

Try not to talk. Say something.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Just Ranchin in a Free World

Every time September 11th roles around we are reminded that freedom doesn't come free. This year seemed to be especially cathartic.

The Vietnam memorial wall was in town and I got to see it for the first time. My heart was in my throat as I approached these heroes. But once in, I heard them say Go! We didn't die for nothing.

9/11 hits me close. This was the beginning of my call to the priesthood. I was 21 and life was good, but my world was shook just like everybody's. My response like so many's was what can I do, I'm here to serve. My path didn't lead me into the military, but it did set me on a course that led me into the priesthood.

We took on a new cowboy this weekend. Shane Cardi is new to CC and wants to learn the ropes. Welcome to the herd partner. 

Once we got Chief and him aquatinted we showed up for the Memorial Parade to lead Matt Walker's float down 2nd Street. 

Knowing Shane had been studying some Wyoming history I wanted to show him this wall with ancient artifacts. He was amazed.

I think we found a pair. You done good ol' son. Wear that hat with honor. 

Mmm... feels good. 

While on the Bell, John invited a few friends over so we jumped in. 

You're a generous man John, and you've come a long way. Keep up the Good work.

Hobo Jim was the main feature. Campfires are his venue of choice, though he's no stranger to Nashville. Shane had a special interest as he's been known to pick a cord or two. May God bless you Jim. Thanks for coming up and lightening our hearts.


In light of so much raw and realness, what is a man to do? Keep on ranchin in a free world! Our heroes died so that we could live. Not for ourselves, but for those who come after us. If freedom is only me deep the world is in trouble. But if we look to those who will reap what we sow, then we're ranchin. Never forget. If we do, we'll pay the price. Freedom never comes free. 


Offer it Up

Don't waste your suffering. Unite it with Christ's and help bring about the redemption of the world.


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Sons of Mary 2021

Labor Day began our annual Sons of Mary fraternal hangout. What a perfect time to get away and reflect on the graces of this past year and prepare ourselves for whatever lies ahead. Thanks Mom and Dad for letting us use the cabin. Couldn't have asked for more.

6 of the 7 boys were able to make it: FB, Fr. Robert Rodgers, Fr. Hiep Nguyen, Fr. Brian Hess, Fr. Clark Lenz, Fr. Linh Vu.

To start our first morning off, the Lord blessed us with a young cow moose right out the cabin door.

No better way to give thanks than through our daily celebration of the Mass.

After breakfast then, we hit the trail.

And hiked into Lake Mclain.

Beautiful from the ground and the air.

No rush here. We ate lunch and took a nice siesta.

On the way out Linh spotted this friendly guy who had not a care in the world.

So we jumped back in the rigs and continued on.

These pics don't do the trail justice. The bolder hopping we did on the way up to East Tensleep Lake was probably the most intense 4x4ing I've ever done. If Bob wasn't in front breaking the trail, I would have probably turned Ol' White Horse around and gone home. Often the Lord leads us down roads that we can't turn back on.

It was worth the ride. East Tensleep Lake was on my bucket list. 

Nothing more peaceful than surfing mountain water.

Fr. Hiep took to it like riding a bike.

Some of the boys opted for fishing. This nice brook trout sure tasted good later that night. 

More than anything it was nice to just chill. 

It was so fitting and providential to conclude our retreat on the feast day of our Blessed Mother's Nativity. From her comes forth the Son of God. By entrusting ourselves, and in particular our priesthood, to her, she leads to Him. I know it's true because I've experienced her maternal goodness all throughout my life. This weekend was just another opportunity to re-up our commitment to Her. In Mary's arms, life is fun and we get the job done.

Fr. Brian

Fr. Brian Hess and I go way back to seminary. Being two years ahead of me in school and about eight years behind me in life, we've spent...