In the process of getting permission to photograph the church and doing the actual photography we were able to meet the people who are working to restore the church. What an interesting group of people! The beauty of the people, their stories and the ongoing story of the church amazed us.
Father Drew who is working hard to restore the church before he retires. He is quite the character. In addition to his love for helping people Father Drew loves to research the history and the people involved with the Mission. Did you know that he wrote his dissertation on the St Ignatius church? But life is not all in the past for Father Drew. He is also helping the church to move forward. In addition to restoring the frescoes his goals include a handicapped ramp.
Sister Margaret, a Dominican Sister from Grand Rapids, MI is the Religious Education and Pastoral Assistant to Fr. Drew. She is in the St. Ignatius area and is knowledgeable in day to day operations.
Anne Stewart is the Religious Education Coordinator in the Arlee area and is the Music Director for St. Ignatius, Sacred Heart and St. John Berchman/Jocko Missions.
Nancy Plant is the secretary who keeps everything in order. She is at the center of everyday life at the Mission. She does everything! She handles the everyday calls, genealogy research, keeps the books straight and much more.
Franklin Redcherries and Anthony Mathes are the Maintenance Personnel who take care of the Mission on a daily basis. You may see them when you visit on any given day.
Charlie Freshour, a member of church and a wonderful woman who oversees the construction aspects of maintaining the church. She brings an impressive set of skills to the church. She is a professional painter with over 30 years of experience. She is doing all the research on how the frescoes need to be restored and helps create the connections to make that happen. In addition to her construction skills she is also a good resource manager. She finds the needed items like scaffolding and the little things that make the magic of restoration happen. It is amazing what she can get done!
Gordon Schliep, a master carpenter, is building the new altar after the last one collapsed. The new altar will be on casters so they can move it out of the way when they work on the frescoes. Although he may never get the alter done. Visitors from all over the world stop by and ask him questions and he always takes the time to answer.
Most of all we must mention the numerous dedicated local volunteers as well as donors from all over the world who over the years who have giving of themselves and their families tirelessly both through physical, emotional and financial support.to preserve the Mission for the future generations
And these are just a few of the many people whose lives are interwoven with the St. Ignatius Mission. As we learn more about the church and the people involved we will add their names to our website.
How You Can Help
They need a over a million dollars to restore the building. The building had some major issues and settled several inches, cracking the frescoes. Because the church is an active church the congregation is expected to handle the costs of repair. It is more money that the community itself can raise, they are looking for donations. They have a Go Fund Me page set up at: https://www.gofundme.com/StIgnatius-Mission. They would appreciate anything you choose to donate.