St. Christopher Church, Kanab, marks 50 years

Friday, Jul. 27, 2007
St. Christopher Church, Kanab, marks 50 years Photo 1 of 3
Parishioners gather for the Mass commemorating the 50th anniversary of the dedication of St. Christopher Catholic Church in Kanab July 14. Before Mass began, parishioners shared memories of the many pastors who have served in the area, including the legendary Dominican Father Joseph Valine, who built mission churches wherever he went and supported the Catholic communities by making and selling doughnuts.

KANAB — The Catholics who call St. Christopher Church in Kanab are hearty and faithful. They came in families of two, three, and four generations to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the dedication of their church.

Diocesan Archivist Gary Topping provided a tribute for the occasion recalling the hard work and devotion of the later Dominican Father Joseph Valine, the founding pastor, who supported the building of mission churches in Utah by making and selling donuts.

In his homily Bishop Wester shared the July 7, 1957, entry from the diary of Bishop Duane G. Hunt, who dedicated the church.

"This appointment was nestled in the midst of great activity," Bishop Wester said, noting that Bishop Hunt had traveled to California and back, to visit the parishes of St. Bridget in Milford before the dedication, then to the Grand Canyon, Richfield, Salt Lake City, St. Pius X Parish in Moab, St. Joseph’s in Monticello, to La Sal, back to Moab, to Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish, Price, then back to Salt Lake City.

Noting the presence of two Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stake presidents and a United Church of Christ minister at the Mass, Bishop Wester said they "touch our hearts as God has touched so many hearts in this church these past 50 years..."

Bishop Wester encouraged the parishioners of St. Christopher to, "Love the Lord your God and your neighbor in the same way the Good Samaritan of the Gospel loved."

Speaking of the distinctive and unique "look" of every Catholic parish, Bishop Wester said there are many ways of looking at St. Christophers – the land and the buildings, the history and the dates, the church’s place in the larger diocese, by its list of pastors and administrators, etc, "but the real definition is the Body of Christ," he said.

Reflecting on the Mass readings, Bishop Wester spoke of the church as, "the image of Christ Jesus, who is the church’s head... This celebration is a recognition of Christ’s presence here specifically through this parish church. It is not through brick and mortar, but through the people, the living stones of the church...

"The church, then, is Christ present in us, the living members."

Bishop Wester spoke of the congregation’s dual responsibility to love God and neighbor, and to combine the two loves and make them dependent on each other.

"We are called to worship the loving God," he said. "God is great, and no church can contain him, nor can we."

The bishop said those who complain that they get nothing out of going to church are approaching it the wrong way. "We are called to give praise to God, to love God. Without this love of God, our love of neighbor is a subtle form of self love."

Without our love of neighbor, he said, "our love of God is not grounded, not real. We must see Christ in each other."

After the Mass, at a parish dinner, Bishop Wester blessed a painting of Mother Teresa, a gift to the parish from Omer Mullen and his late wife.

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