On Sunday, parishioners in the tiny Montana town of Big Fork, will add something substantial to the worldwide Church. They will dedicate their new and long awaited church building, which, as far as they can tell, is the first in the world to be named after the late Pope John Paul II.
The new parish brings to fruition plans which began in 1992 to combine two small, local parishes into one 500-seat church.
Msgr. Donald Shea pastor of the church, told the Missoulian newspaper that "The dedication of this new parish church combines the churches of St. Ann in Somers and St. Catherine in Bigfork."
Groundbreaking for the $3.75 million church took place in May of 2004, and because the death of John Paul II happened during the construction process, parishioners decided that it be fitting for the late pontiff to become the parish’s namesake.
To his knowledge, Msgr. Shea told the Missoulian, the church is the first in the world to be named after the Polish-born pope, often referred to as, John Paul the Great.
Helena Bishop George Leo Thomas will preside over the dedication ceremony this Sunday in Big Fork.