The Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis, Bishop of the Salt Lake City diocese, dedicated St. Christopher Catholic Church on Monday, June 26. The 5:30 p.m. Mass was well attended by many church representatives, community leaders, as well as faithful parishioners.

St. Christopher Catholic Church, located at 25 West 200 South in Kanab, has been a part of the faith community of southern Utah for many years.

The service was a re-dedication of the 2015 remodel, which expanded the sanctuary and meeting hall. Robert Kaczowka of Mesa Design and Matt Hinke of TC Engineering were on hand to present the construction plans and keys to the bishop.

“What a great day it is for the church in Kanab,” said Bishop Solis, as he greeted those in attendance. He performed the blessing of the water, and then sprinkled it throughout the beautiful sanctuary. Bishop Solis, with warmth and good humor, then performed a Mass.

“A dedication ceremony is something very important,” said Solis. “Are your hearts filled with joy? It’s a day of joy for the Lord. When you come here, you realize the living presence of God. The presence of God has been with you in your spiritual journey here.”

He went on to cite the Catholic Church’s long presence in Kanab. “You’ve created a family – one in heart, one in mind, and one in the Lord. You are truly blessed to have this symbol, a living symbol of God’s presence, in our midst.”

Bishop Solis encouraged the faithful to use the moment to reflect and refocus. “It’s our chance to rededicate our hearts. It is a calling to rededicate ourselves, and become who God intended us to be. Today is a moment of joy.”

 

History of St. Christopher Catholic Church

The first Catholic Mass in Kanab was celebrated in the home of E.W. Carrico on December 20, 1935. Between 1936 and 1946, Mass was held monthly in Kanab, particularly during the tourist season.

In 1947, Father Valine was appointed as pastor of Saint Bridget Parish in Milford and began serving the mission churches in southwestern Utah. Fr. Valine offered Mass in Kanab monthly during the off-season and weekly during the tourist season, occasionally traveling to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. He made and sold doughnuts along his numerous stops to supplement his meager income and became known affectionately as the “Doughnut Priest.”

In 1953, Bishop Hunt established Saint Christopher as a parish, and appointed Father Alphonse LeMay as pastor. Fr. LeMay died that same year, and Fr. Valine again served as pastor until 1971.

After first celebrating Mass in parishioner’s homes, a trailer was used and later a house on the present site was converted into a church. During construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1957, Fr. Valine undertook the task of building the present cinderblock church to meet the needs of the community, and in 1987 the church was remodeled following the norms of Vatican II. The latest remodeling, in 2014-15, was completed to comply with today’s standards and to provide space for a “gathering hall.”