We recently reported here about Msgr. Stephen Rossetti’s time in Antarctica as the Catholic chaplain to the American and New Zealand communities working for the National Science Foundation. Since that post, the priest also wrote for the the CNN Belief Blog where he said his planned “quick visit” to the South Pole ended up being much longer than anticipated as weather was not permitting flights out.
The priest arrived at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station Dec. 21 and was to celebrate an early Christmas liturgy before returning to McMurdo Station on the coast of Antarctica the next day for its celebration of the Lord’s birth. But days later found him “locked in at the pole, and there was absolutely nothing I or anyone else could do about it. A common feeling on the continent swept over me – I was helpless.”
Putting it in spiritual perspective he wrote: “Antarctica puts you in your place. We are not in control here. Planning is difficult, and people are constantly adjusting. But on a larger scale, it reminds me that in general we have little control over much of our lives.”
When Msgr. Rossetti was told he might be at the South Pole for Christmas he also learned that there had never been a chaplain there that day.
He has not updated his personal blog post about this trip so those tracking his progress will have to look for a future update.
In the meantime, at the other end of the earth, Oblate Father Andrew Small, national director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, spent Christmas in the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska — the only U.S. diocese receiving help from the Pontifical Mission Societies.
During his visit he appropriately spent Dec. 23 in the Alaskan town of North Pole.
The Fairbanks Diocese stretches from Tok, near the Canadian border, all the way across the state to Little Diomede near the border with Russia; from Barrow on the coast of the Arctic Ocean to Chefornak south of Nelson Island. It encompasses almost 410,000 square miles and is home to 161,000 people, 14,500 of whom are Catholics.
Father Small’s Christmas visit to Alaska is chronicled here.