We had a day off here at Rafter Six Ranch after a great concert and teaching yesterday. I have a bunch of photos and some video to sort through. Hopefully I can get some up in the next couple days. We leave first thing in the morning for Lethbridge, Alberta the back to Calgary for the remaining concerts. I’ve discovered that I was confused about the date of Memorial Day this year so it looks like I’m going to miss all my family at home. Any of you reading this….sorry! Absent minded sound guy syndrome.
Well we had great concerts in Saskatoon & Regina and today made the drive from Regina to Rafter Six Ranch just a bit east of Banff. I had a great walk in Saskatoon the other day that I hope to write about on my other blog. CAM member and organizer of this leg Denis Grady met us here at the ranch today. Denis and his wife Wendy were nice enough to take me out to dinner tonight and show me around Banff a bit. The evening finished with a bit of a sing-a-long around the campfire. We even had John Michael and Viola out for a bit!
Well I’m settled in here at Queen’s House retreat center in Saskatoon for the night. It feels like it’s been a whirlwind few days. We’ve been to Red Deer, Sherwood Park, Caroline and Fort McMurray already. All the concert have been very good. All the crowds have been very responsive both to John Michael’s music and to the news of the fire at Little Portion.
In Sherwood Park we played at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish to a packed house and John Michael did a retreat/teaching the next day. The folks at OLPH did a great job getting us all in and setup. Len, the sponsor from OLPH, is also from Universal church supplies who are handling product sales at all our Canadian concerts. We’ve seen Len and his wife a few times already. We sent our bus in for repair in Sherwood Park too. Unfortunately it still isn’t fixed so it will make another trip to the shop here in Saskatoon. Our poor bus driver Bill has been nearly pulling is hair out dealing with the mechanics.
After Sherwood Park we went down to Sanctum Retreat center in Caroline, Alberta to meet our hosts Kristoph, Mariette and their son Joshua. Bill & Joshua struck up an immediate friendship & rivalry watching hockey on the bus! I wandered the somewhat snowbound trails at Sanctum taking pictures and shooting video. We all did laundry and John Michael sang, without PA, for a group of about 30 priests on retreat. A good time was truly had by all.
From Caroline we headed north to the oil sands country and Fort McMurray. We stayed at the rectory of St. Paul’s church with 26 year old Father Andrew, the youngest priest of his diocese. St. Paul’s is actually part of St. John the Baptist parish whose pastor is Father Gerard. Father Gerard has spent much of the past decade making tapestries which hang in his parish. They are each based in scripture and are spectacular. His tapestries of the book of Revelation and of the prophets nearly brought me to tears. I heard the song Ancient of Days in my head as Father explained the images to us. I only wish I’d had my camera with me. Perhaps one day Father Gerard will be able to publish a book of photos documenting his work.
So here we are in Saskatoon after a long drive today. I’ve been doing some video editing on the bus. John Michael and I have trying together to learn Google Sketchup the past few days. Viola is feeling a little under the weather and could use your prayers.
Ok, actually we’re already in Canada. We had a great concert in Great Falls, Montana Tuesday night. Stayed with the Poor Claires in their new retreat house. Special thanks to Colette Bernica at Central Catholic HS for enduring the flood of packages and other mayhem that ensued because of the fire. Thanks too, to Marty Severson for bringing me a decent little PA on short notice.
Wednesday we made the drive across the border. Spent an hour or so dealing with immigration. No great trauma there, just bureaucracy along with friendliness. Made a stop in Calgary; while I picked up rental gear John Michael did an interview with the Calgary Herald. Thanks go to the fellas in rental at Long & McQuade.
That brings us to today here in Red Deer, Alberta. I had to make a run this morning to pick a pile of assorted stuff necessary to getting my job done from day to day. Then this afternoon it was off to St. Mary’s parish for our first Canadian concert. Turned out to be a great night. Irene, our sponsor, did a great job and my volunteers were cheerful and willing at every turn. Except for me a making a couple mistakes with the new PA it was a really good concert. Tomorrow and Saturday we’re in Sherwood Park.
These photos come from Richard Ims, BSC.
At 6:00 a. m. this morning, Viola, John Michael and I, along with Bill our driver for this trip, boarded the bus for our first Canadian tour. Meanwhile, life at Little Portion has already regained some sense of order if not normalcy. It’s been one heck of a four day ride for the community. Myself, I chipped in a little here and there. I was able to help get the wheels in motion to have a new phone system installed and took the first steps towards having new broadband internet access brought on site. I also made some small electrical repairs to the interim common center. That, strangely, felt like the most productive and satisfying thing I did this week. There are many special little things I’ve seen or heard this week. I watched Tuesday as the children walked around the site taking in the damage for the first time. Many visitors were asked to make a prayer walk around the site and to pray over the grounds. Father Bob & Father Thomas I am told, prayed over the ashes of the Altar which lay atop my gear.
Thursday the whole community participated in celebrations for The National Day of Prayer at the Carroll County fair grounds. The event concluded with John Michael performing, the final moments were in candlelight. It’s almost surreal to me to think of this event. Looking into the stands I saw a profoundly American, and newly ecumenical, picture. All of the Brothers, Sisters & Families from Little Portion in their habits. Mennonite children sitting among the LP children. Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians… Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t pull punches when it comes to doctrine and belief. But that doesn’t mean that I am unaware of, or opposed to, the significance of such an event. Many of my ancestors after all were Puritans with names like Cotton, Dennison & Gallup. Special thanks go to Randy Franz and family for the generous use of their PA for the whole event and the special assistance that Randy provide John Michael & Me. I have more to post about but am thoroughly exhausted at the moment. More pictures to come soon I hope.
These were taken early Tuesday morning. The last fire fighters didn’t leave until about 6 a.m. They returned later that day to try to douse some hotspots in the area of the stock room & library. Even now that area is still smoldering.