Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 17, 2008
Journey to paint a church turns into a call of the Spirit
By LINDA KNIGHT
Special to the WCR
You never know the blessings that can come with everyday hard work. When I was asked if I wanted to paint a church in southern Alberta, I didnít know what my sister and I would be getting into.
The parish priest, Father Pawel Andrasz, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, wanted to meet with us in Stand Off, on the Blood Reserve, to show us the church.
As we approached the beautiful area of rolling hills and plateaus that merged into majestic mountains, we found ourselves remembering a family vacation we had taken many years back. Chief Mountain stood out looking over the vast expanse of the Blackfoot First Nation Reserve. There, Father led us to St. Maryís Church nestled in what was for a long time, St. Maryís Mission.
We could see that Father had big plans for the restoration of this beautiful church. Not only was he working hard to move this project forward but he was also working to enliven the faith of the parishioners. His dedication to truth and beauty was music to our ears.
After a few months we started painting. The best part about painting the church was Fatherís visits. Many days he would meet with us as we ate lunch or stopped for a coffee break.
We were able to ask Father so many things about our faith and hear his wisdom. He spoke about the teachings of the Church and set us at ease.
It was nice to be there at that time since our brother had died suddenly only days before we were to start painting. Even though Father was very busy, he took time to come and see us.
Evans and Delores Daychief offered to have us stay at their house while we painted the church. Little did they know we would stay longer than expected. Every day they made us feel welcome.
It was so nice to meet with and talk to Dr. Helen Many Fingers, a humble and respected elder of the Blackfoot community. She spoke to us about the past and how faithful the people were in her younger years ó how they went to the mountains with their teams of horses and brought back the logs to build the little church called St. Catherineís ó where we attended Mass during the renovations of St. Maryís.
We felt so bad for Evans when his mother died. We didnít want to be a burden to Evans and Delores during this stressful time. Remarkably, they took everything in stride. Out of love, the grandsons dug their grandmotherís grave by hand.
On Sundays we met the faithful people of the parish. We felt so welcomed by them. Their devotion was evident in how they participated in the Mass.
When Father gave his homily you could have heard a pin drop. Though his homilies were easy to understand, they took us to a deeper level. He brought the message to us in a way we could embrace in our daily lives.
It seemed as though Father was in a different world when he was saying the Mass. It felt like he was experiencing heaven and we were witnessing it ≠ó such peacefulness.
We were privileged to go for Mass and adoration on the First Friday of the month, something that is hard to find back home. The people of the parish let us know how happy they were to have Father Pawel as their parish priest.
We went to Stand Off just to paint the church but much more was given than we were able to give. It turned out that this simple, hard work was a much needed and appreciated spiritual journey. Thanks to the good people of Stand Off and to Father Pawel Andrasz for all the good things that came from our experience on the Blood Reserve.