Priestly Ministry in the Back Country

September 24, 2014

Fr. Chris Saliga, O.P., recently began service as a chaplain at Wyoming Catholic College, a Catholic liberal arts college founded in 2005 in Lander, WY. We asked him to describe his work as a Chaplain at this distinctive institution: As one of two chaplains at Wyoming Catholic College, I serve in the following ways. First, as one would expect, I serve by making the sacraments available at the College.  Mass here is offered in both the Novus Ordo and Extraordinary forms.  Although I studied Latin in the past for the purposes of translating textual information, I never actually acquired the language. Thus, I am retooling my Latin under expert instruction so that I will be fluent in Latin.  Once that occurs, I will learn the Dominican Rite so that we can make that available here as well. In addition to my sacramental ministries, Wyoming Catholic College offers non credit courses called practica in place of electives. I am currently teaching one such course to juniors and seniors this semester on Servais Pinckaers’s book The Pursuit of Happiness God’s Way: Living the Beatitudes. There are 23 students in my course (a fairly nice percentage of roughly 125 total students at the college). Wyoming Catholic College also has an outdoor leadership program that is well integrated with the great books program. Thus, I serve in the back country as well. The pictures included in the slideshow below were taken just a few weeks ago within the context of the three-week freshman backpacking trip in the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains. My next significant trip in the back country will be the winter trip which will involve alpine skiing, cross country skiing, and winter camping at high altitudes in sub-zero temperatures. Of course, well constructed snow caves, quite similar to igloos, hold inside temperatures above freezing. With snow caves and proper gear, thriving in that environment is quite nice. Even in the field, we celebrate Mass, hear confessions, and lend leadership on a variety of levels.  My background as an Army Combat Medic, paratrooper, and registered nurse applies quite well. Finally, Wyoming Catholic College is situated well within the domain of the Central Province. I am very grateful to the hospitality of the Central Province. In fact, I will head down to St. Dominic Priory in Denver in just a couple of weeks to make retreat. Our Dominican friars there are most hospitable in helping me continue to live the community pillar of our life even while being out of our own provincial domain. Also, priestly fraternity here in Lander is excellent. Suffice it to say that the community pillar of our Dominican Life can be lived even in exceptional circumstances.

More News & Events