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Couple from Red Lodge donates the rectory to St. Agnes Catholic Church



Red Lodge, Montana – Due to a lack of priests, Columbus-based pastor Father Navil Rodrigues must travel long distances to serve the parishes in Absarokee, Red Lodge, and Columbus.

That will alter after a Red Lodge couple donated a new rectory to St. Agnes Catholic Church, providing Father Navil with a temporary residence in their neighborhood.

Father Navil’s parish stretches from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Columbus to St. Agnes in Red Lodge.

“I go around 400 miles a week between three churches just for the spiritual needs,” said Father Navil on Sunday.

Since there are now 60% fewer priests in the country than there were fifty years ago, pastors are overworked and dispersed around the state.

“That’s why we take care of two or three churches and it’s not only me. There are so many other priests that do the same in this dioceses,” Father Navil said.

The pastor has been making this drive for the past six years, through freezing winters and scorching summers.

“It’s really challenging during winter, driving early in the morning or late in the evening. And all kinds of wild all around,” said Father Navil.

“It’s a horribly impractical set of circumstances,” said St. Agnes parishioner, John Radick.

John and Martha Radick, who have resided in Red Lodge sporadically for the past 21 years, weren’t blind to Father Navil’s expeditions.

“Our son and daughter in law are living there on a full-time basis. They’re permanently there and we wanted to reach out and do something because of all of the impact it’s made on us,” John said.

The Radicks have donated a new rectory to St. Agnes Church as a result, giving Father Navil a place to stay at least three days every week.

“John asked him, well what do you think? And he just looked at the window and looked at the view and said yes. And John said, well you haven’t seen the whole place yet and he said yes,” said Martha.

The donation to St. Agnes is a gift to the Red Lodge neighborhood as well.

“This is so that we are able to have a really great place for our priest, whoever it might be, to stay and live. And so, this is something that is intended to stay within the community and for the community to have the ability to build on that,” John said.

Matt and Danielle Underhill, two other parishioners, appreciate it.

“That’s a huge donation for anyone and to give it to our church and to Father Navil, it’s a beautiful gift. And for our whole parish moving forward, the years to come. I see Red Lodge growing and I think that’s going to be an important factor to our town,” Matt said.

Father Navil is looking forward to what is ahead.

“It’s wonderful for a priest, especially for a priest because a priest is a man of prayer. It’s a beautiful site for praying,” said Father Navil.


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