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ExtEnsion24OurlegacyHeaddedThereisakindoheroismthatimplantedtheaithhereinOregon.Therewerepriestswhowalkedhundredsomilesorrodehorsebacktoservetheirparishes.Andthereweregenerationsopeoplewhomadetheaiththeirownandhandeditdowntothenextgeneration.Tohandontheaithistohandonwhataithbringswhichishopeandlove.CatholicExtensionsroleinOregonespeciallyintheDioceseoBakercantbeoverstated.Beginningin1906itsrstyearoexistenceCatholicExtensionstartedundingchurcheshere.Grantso500and600weregiventobuildtinychurchesinsmalltownslikeOntariowhereFatherFischerwasbornDuurandBoardmanandonthethreereservationsthatarepartothediocese.TodateCatholicExtensionhasgivennearly5milliontotheDioceseoBaker.InasenseIwasnourishedbyCatholicExtensionsaidBishopCary.ThechurchIgrewupinwasbuiltbyCatholicExtension.SaidFatherFischerThiseasternOregoniswhereCatholicExtensionhadtherailcars.Intheearly1900stheywouldparkachapelcarinplaceslikeBakerCityLaGrandeandPendletonbecausetherewerenochurchesthere.Thechapelcarsweresenttoplaceswherenochurchexisted.TheniitwasdeterminedthatapermanentchurchshouldbebuiltCatholicExtensionhelpedundconstruction.AccordingtoABriefHistoryoftheDioceseofBakerpublishedin1930Extensionmagazinealsoplayedarole.Thebooknotedthatintheearly1900sthemagazinemadeanappealtoreaderstohelpund25churchesintheDioceseoBaker.AlmostimmediatelytwosistersinYpsilantiMichigansentatelegramtoCatholicExtensionsheadquartersinChicagosayingtheywouldsendenoughmoneytobuildall25.TheinterioroftheretreatcenterinPowellButte.SincethoseearlyyearsCatholicExtensionhashelpedbuildorrenovateatleast195churchesintheDioceseoBaker.Mostothesechurchesarestilloperatingtodaymanyintownsoewerthan100people.TheirparishionersaresheepandcattleranchersmigrantworkersmillworkersNativeAmericansandotherswhoFatherFischerdescribesashavingaerceaith.Thesearereallygoodpeople.Theyaresoproudotheirchurchesandsoloyalhesaid.Becausethereisnostafatthesechurchestheparishionersdoitallomansweringphonestomowinglawnstoxingthings.Manyothesededicatedparishionershaveenduredtheirownhardshipsbecauseothediminishingloggingindustryandothereconomicwoes.ThepeoplewholiveinthesesmalltownstheyrethelightotheworldsaidFatherFischer.Theyreevangelizingjustbysurvivingandbeingpresent.Despitewhathappensintheirlivestheseparishesgoon.Manyparishesaredoingmuchmorethansurvivingtheyreourishing.InMilton-FreewaterontheeasternsideothedioceseSt.FrancisoAssisiChurchwhichwasbuiltwithhelpomCatholicExtensionisgrowingrapidly.AndonthewesternsideothedioceseinHoodRiverSt.MarysChurchalsoisgrowing.InactanewHispaniclayleaderrecentlywasinstalledatSt.Marys.TheseHispaniclayleadersareherebecauseoCatholicExtensionsaidGibson.Icantbegintotellyouthevalueothem.TohaveSpanish-speakingassistantshaschangedtheaceotheChurchhere.SheaddedCatholicExtensionisthebestpartnershipwecouldhaveeverdreamedo.Thereweregenerationsopeoplewhomadethefaiththeirownandhandeditdowntothenextgeneration.Tohandontheaithistohandonwhataithbringswhichishopeandlove.