Jumping in the Boat



It is dusk on Sunday, 21 JUL, at St. Catherine Church located at the north entrance of Lake Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The first five days of vacation have been wonderful. Let me relate a few highlights. The sixteen hour drive to northern Minnesota was wonderfully uneventful and easy. There were no traffic delays, even as there were some unexpected turns since I didn’t always monitor Google Maps, to prevent little side trips that technically would save me a few minutes, but which took me off interstates around Chicago, not something that is always best to do. True, the sixteen-hour drive is a long drive. However, like so many parents and so many hard working people, it is not uncommon to work sixteen hours straight! Wonderfully, I kept amazingly alert with prayer and by listening to two books on tape. One by James Patterson and Jimmy Carter about the terrorist kidnapping of a  past president’s daughter and the other a pretty well done romantic comedy about the people you meet on vacation. Things are hot and dry at Itasca, so much so that the area is experiencing a drought. Things are noticeably drier and not as green as usual. The lakes are one or two feet lower too, preventing me from fishing a couple of lakes that I frequent. However, I was able to get on Lake George, and the fish continue to practically jump in the boat! Not only have I fed myself, but I also gave several pounds of fish to the family that coordinates the St. Catherine Volunteer Committee, making possible the visiting priest program here. For those who haven’t heard the story, about twenty-five years ago the Diocese of Crookston closed little St. Catherine due to the shortage of priests. Some lifelong parishioners, especially Pat Evenwoll and her sister Judy Schrupp asked the bishop for permission to open the parish for the convenience of Itasca State Park patrons in the cabins, campgrounds and lodge. Lake Itasca State Park is the premier Minnesota state park. The bishop said yes. However, they would have to find their own priests. Pat and Judy’s father, Bert, then owner of Bert’s Cabins in the park, donated a mobile home as a rectory. They advertised to priests of different dioceses offering free lodging and lots of vacation opportunities, in particular, great fishing, in exchange for a Sunday Mass. The program was off and running twenty-two years ago and I’ve been on board ever since! I sent a picture of most of the volunteers to include in bulletin and social media.

I have a great vacation routine. I am out on a lake by 7 am. and fish until 11. After cleaning the fish and putting them on ice and after having a little lunch, I might take a nap, write some postcards or journal in the guest book they keep. Other afternoon activities include hiking, biking or going to the lake beach. One of my favorite places is “Preachers Grove” a stand of 200 year old red pines named because in the early years of the park some pastors gathered there for church camp. Of course, the most common thing to do for visitors is to walk across the Mississippi River at its beginning as the water flows across the rocks at the north arm of Lake Itasca. You can see a live webcam of the headwaters by searching for “Mississippi River Headwaters, Minnesota DNR.” I offer a private Mass around 3 pm. and then head to the rectory to decide upon a recipe for the fish that day. Since I’m on vacation I can spend extra time making supper. See the picture with this article of Sunday night’s supper, Bass with Cajun Rub and Lime Cilantro Sour Cream. You can try an online search for that too and it ought to come up with the recipe from the primary recipe book I use from In-Fisherman magazine. The recipe in the magazine uses catfish, but I use bass since that is what I catch! The day ends by the campfire or perhaps back in the park swinging on the swings as the sun sets over Lake Itasca. Praying for you all and wishing you were here!!

Eagle Scout Projects

Incarnation Parishioners are joyful at the completion of two Eagle Scout projects over the past months. On separate but related projects Troop 530 Eagle Scout aspirants Chris Mohler and Alex Burkhardt have finished their projects. Chris organized an effort to  put in a large stone patio/fire pit to the west of the parish office building for use by young, old, and everybody in between. Alex organized the build of long lasting and beautiful composite park benches for use on the patio and around the fire pit. See the pictures in this week’s bulletin and social media and many thanks for a job well done to Alex and Chris. Contribute to the Cause For those who wish to contribute to help pay for Eagle Scout project materials please make a check out to Boy Scout Troop 530, put a note on the envelope labeled Eagle Scout Projects and send to the parish office or put in the offertory collection.

Sincerely and with Love in Christ,
Fr. Pat