Catholicism in Big Sky Country

Catholicism in Big Sky Country

I have two priest friends from my old Steubenville days, Fr. Kevin Gillen and Fr. Mark Ropel, both in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). Fr. Kevin was my roommate at Steubie U and he used to be a Wall Street stockbroker. Fr. Mark is a former US Army Captain, Ranger qualified. They are among the men I admire most and are the epitome of “men with chests” Catholic priests (along with another ordained Steubie friend, Fr. John Klockeman).

Fathers Kevin and Mark are up in Wyoming right now and Fr. Kevin sent me a link to photos he took of some of their adventures. In several of them, you’ll see them on backcountry horseback trips, celebrating Mass in the middle of nowhere on tree stumps, rock piles, and even the back of a pickup truck. They are some amazing photos and I must say, I wish I could be with them on one of those trips. Among my dream trips is a horseback journey in Big Sky Country.

Enjoy the photos.

(You know between the priests who visit me here on this blog and the ones I know who I can call friends, I am reminded that the priesthood is in a lot better shape in many ways than the Scandal stories would lead us to believe. It’s important to remember that and I direct that comment at myself.)

  • Cool photos. Is SOLT an order that is primarily for men w so-called delayed vocations? That is Fr. Corapi’s order too, I believe.

    Also, is that the same Fr. John Klockeman that was on Generation Cross? That show was great.

    Take care – Joanne

  • I don’t think it’s necessarily for delayed vocations, but nowadays they seem to be the majority anyway.

    It was probably the same Fr. Klockeman. He is a priest in Minneapolis, working at the seminary now, I believe.

    I liked the show, too. It certainly broke the mold of Catholic TV.

  • very cool photos. I want to go too.
    Reminds me of our family vacations to Montana, though we never did the horseback thing more than once. My sister is evidently very allergic to horses and her eye swelled up, it was horrific.
    But we didn’t get to hear mass out in the wild like that.

  • Got to do the horseback adventure once in Idaho.  We were visiting a relative who lives in the mountains about 50 miles west of Grand Teton Park.  He knows some outfitters and borrowed some horses one Sunday morning.  We rode them on what are called “dry farms” where there is little else than agricultural fields, woods, and a spud locker here and there.  Found out what a horse does when a badger is around—stops dead in his tracks and refuses to move no matter what you do to him.  It was a great place to commune with God on a Sunday morning when you’re in Mormon country and too far from a Catholic church to get to Mass.

    Did you ever go horseback riding at Faith Ranch when you were at Steubenville, Dom?  Some of the ranch staff were Steubenville students back in the 80s and 90s when my daughter was a horse enthusiast and spent every moment she possibly could at Faith.

  • Dear Dom,

    The photos remind me of the St. George Trek at Philmont Scout Ranch that the National Catholic Committee of Scouting (NCCS) sponsors every two years for Catholic Scouts.  I know of a small number who have heard the call from that experience.  The next one is scheduled for mid-late July 2006.

  • I think Fr. Kevin forgot something when he packed for the trip- like his collar. I’m glad a good vacation was had by all but do you really think a canvas laundry bag is appropriate for use as an altar cloth for the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Dear Lord?  Can’t wait for the beach photos though, hang ten!