By Fr. Blane Grein, OFM and Charlotte J. Frisbie

Note: If you would like to purchase a copy of this story, please call the Chinle parish at 928-674-5413.

Read Part I

Buildings, Structures, or Features no longer here

As is true in Chinle as a community, the Franciscan-use land has also seen buildings and other structures come and go during its history.

These can all be documented although to varying degrees of detail, given resources such as letters, insurance reports, documents archived in Chinle, St. Michaels, or Cincinnati, House Chronicles (even though they are incomplete), old photographs in personal, museum, and/or Franciscan collections, and other items.

We are listing those we have learned about while reconstructing the history of early times at the Annunciation Mission, and a summary of what we now know about them. Other information is always most welcome!


In front of the Thrift Shop, 2004: Fr. Blane Grein, Bob Gilroy (lay volunteer), Sr. Adelaide Link.

A cistern which provided the cooking and drinking water for the Friary was originally located west of the Annunciation Mission on the south side of the Post Officel Interpreter’s House. We do not know exactly when it was put in, but it is clear that it was after the church was built in 1910. Documents exist noting its use throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Apparently it was filled in, capped, and the ground was leveled sometime in the 1960s, definitely by 1968.

A well and windmill to the northwest of the workshop provided water to the Friary through a tank and gravity flow system. Br. Gervase reportedly dug this well in 1906. By 1945, it had been filled in although it is still visible with the stone walling around it.

The property also included an old coal house and Kohler light plant behind and to the west of the Annunciation Mission. A photograph of this stone building was included in Fr. Francis’ 1940 insurance report. According to one person, the coal shed was constructed in 8/1934 from an earlier rabbit house to which a concrete floor was added.

The Kohler light plant shown in a 1940 photograph was a secondhand one purchased from St. Michaels for $150, when the earlier one had to be replaced on 4/23/1934. However, Fr. Mark’s interview with Br. Gervase shows that the coal house was older than 1934. Br. Gervase said that after he finished the inside of the Friary and dug the well, he built a wood shed by laying flat stones on top of each other without mortar. Next to it, after work on the Annunciation Mission was finished (c. 1910-1911), he built the coal house/light plant building.

Another building many remember was the garage described in 1940 as an unheated, one story log structure with concrete floor and composition roof. The 1934 House chronicle also notes a garage but whether it was the same one is unknown.

As expected, there was also a hogan on the property for use by guests, parents of school children, and others. At one point, it was south of the Post Office/ Interpreter’s House; at another, the hogan was west of the shop/shed, near the well. Documents suggest that there was a hogan on the property even in early times.

We do know that in the fall of 1938, a second one was built by Br. Gotthard and Fr. Anselm Sippel since the first or original one was then “falling down.” The demolition of this second hogan appears to have happened in 1959.

Other former buildings included the “big open garage” which faced east, had no doors, and housed the mail truck (after the roof was raised in 1953), mission bus, carryall, old jeep, and/or other mission vehicles through time, as well as supplies.

A garage of some kind can be documented on the property from 1934 (in the first Chronicle we have found) through 1963. By 1967, only the foundation was left, causing troubles for anyone grading the parking lot. Since its removal, church vehicles have not been under shelter.

Other features or structures included an underground gas tank and pump near the tool shop at least by 1934, and removed in 8/1949; and an outhouse near the chicken coop which Br. Gervase said was the E thing he did in Chinle after finishing the inside of the Friary (1906).

In the 1945-50 period, there was an outhouse south of the big, open, three-car garage. The Chronicle shows that a new “one holer” was built further west on 9/23/1964 and a year later, the older, two holer outhouse was torn down.

Whether or not there ever was a barn or barn-like structure on the grounds remains unclear. The earliest chronicle we found shows that by the end of 1934, the mission had c. 125 chickens and a pig; the pig lived in a little pen “built on the south side of the barn.” There is also reference to “an old barn” in a letter Fr. Anselm sent to the Provincial on 1/15/1939 wherein he describes it as a source for wood used for an addition to the chicken coop.


Fr. Frank Geers and Dermot’s pals. Christmas, 1984.

But it is also clear that there was a barn known as “the government barn” in 1934 which was connected with the Boarding School but located near the Mission around the area where the Chapter House is now.

Since we know that Fr. Leopold had a horse, “Frank,” and eventually a buggy as well as a regular wagon pulled by a team of horses, some kind of barn would seem necessary. Other than that, the only animals ever mentioned in the chronicles we have found were as mentioned above, chickens, and an occasional, single pig.

For a while and starting in 1946, there was a propane gas tank west of the Friary. It was still there in 1962. At times, there were also one or more cattle guards on the property; sometimes there was one between the Friary and the Annunciation Mission such as during the 1930s and the mid 1960s. Sometimes, including in 1950, there was also one at the entrance to the grounds from Indian Rt. 7. Fr. Blane reports no use of cattle guards since 1978.

“If St. Francis would come to Chinle, he would feel quite at home in the rectory.”  – Fr. Edward Bleke, Visitor

Interpreters in Chinle

To date we have a lot of gaps in our knowledge of the Interpreters who were associated with the fuel, and oil, and in 1917, he lived in two rooms in the Annunciation Mission through time.

It is clear that in the early days, the three Day boys, Charley, Sam, Jr. or Sam II, and William all helped the Friars communicate with local Navajos when they first started traveling out from St. Michaels to become familiar with the Chinle area and its residents. Once construction of the Friary was underway, we know that a local Navajo worker, Walter Shirley, interpreted for a short time in the fall of 1905 before leaving the job site.

In several documents, another Navajo, Billy Ayze, is identified as Fr. Leopold’s interpreter. A photograph of him was located at St. Michaels, and we know that Mr. Ayze was the official interpreter for Fr. Leopold in Chinle at least in 1917 and 1918. In one of Fr. Leopold’s 1918 letters (Bahr 2004:406), Ayze is described as “well educated, sincere, full of fervor, willing to help wherever he can” and we also learn he was “a widower, about 30 years of age” who was paid $25 a month.

Wherever he came from before Chinle, Ayze had worked as a cook. The records at the Franciscan Cincinnati Archives identify three other individuals as interpreters in Chinle in the 1918-1920 period: Tom Catron, Fred Price, and Dan Kinlichini. Once again, letters reprinted in Bahr (2004:402, 403, 407-08, 410) shed further light. Fred Price reportedly was originally hired as an interpreter for the mission in Chinle but by 1917, was the cook, farmhand, and helper to Brother. Fred earned $20 a month as well as free board, fuel, and oil, and in 1917, he lived in two rooms in the Interpreter’s House.

He reportedly was married in the summer of 1916. We also know that sometime between February, 1918 and May, 1918, Fred quit at the mission to become the official interpreter at the Chinle Boarding School.

These individuals were evidently followed by John Foley, who was definitely associated with Fr. Leopold and the mission by 1914, if not sooner, since he appears in the 1914 Baptismal records as one of the sponsors.


John B. Foley and daughter; Florence, in the doorway of the Hogan on Church property.

Foley definitely lived in the Interpreter’s House and served as Fr. Emanuel’s interpreter in the 1924-1927 period when the latter was sent to Chinle to fill in for Fr. Leopold, as his illness began. Whether Foley ever interpreted for Fr. Leopold, we do not know, nor can we prove that he continued to serve in that capacity for each of the Friars who followed Fr. Emanuel.

The first House Chronicle located to date tells us that John Foley, long time interpreter for the mission, resigned on 6/11/1934 to take an SCS job in Frazer’s (later, Valley Store). At that time, New Deal programs and jobs were available on the reservation and many were taking advantage of new options.

At St. Michaels, there are photographs of both John and his wife, Mary, as well as some of the other members of their family. Other sources confirm that as of 1945, both John and Mary were running the co-op store in Many Farms.

The House Chronicle indicates that Foley was replaced by Joe Carroll who began the job as interpreter on 6/21/1934. Joe had been baptized at the mission in 1914, in a large group of boys from the government Boarding School. Later, of course, he served for 16 years as a Tribal Council delegate from Chinle (1948-1964).

It appears that Tsohi Mitchell from Tohatchi replaced Carroll as the Friars’ interpreter in 1939 and that he held the job and lived in the Interpreter’s House until 1941. During both Joe and Tsohi’s times, Seya Mitchell also filled in, providing temporary extra help with interpreting for Frs. Anselm Sippel and Silverius Meyer, and Br. Gotthard in the 1934-1941 period.

Probably the best documentation to date exists for the next interpreter, Reed or Reid Winney (1892 1971) who was from Round Rock. We know that Reed began interpreting for the Friars in 1942, when Fr. Francis Borgman was in Chinle and was searching for an interpreter.

Instead of living at the mission, Reed preferred to stay at home with his wife, Mary Ayui Winney, and children. We also know that Reed suffered greatly from crippling arthritis and moved with much difficulty despite using canes.

A number of the Friars tried to get Reed to pursue various treatments, such as hot mineral baths, to alleviate his problems but the results were always only temporary. Among the select few who could read the Navajo language, including when it was written in the orthography developed by Fr. Berard Haile, Reed interpreted for the mission at least until 1965, and worked for at least Frs. Francis Borgman, Mark Sandford, Conall Lynch, and Cormac Antram.

Whether he held the job without interruption from 1942 until 1965, we do not know. Fr. Cormac depended on Reed’s help not just in church, but also at the boarding schools, during home visits, and with his radio program, “The Padres’ Hour,” 1963-65.


Sisters Having a Good Time at Christmas, Chinle, 1989. Left to Right: Srs. Quinta Pampuch, Bonita Wagner, and Kenneth Wiltz.

Only when Reed’s arthritis worsened and prevented him from climbing the steps in the Chinle Friary to reach the upstairs recording studio did the job come to an end. Reed was followed by Thomas H. Begay as the church interpreter at some point in 1965. While we have no information on Begay’s tenure, we know that no interpreters were used after Fr. Davin became Pastor in 1969.

Sisters in Chinle

The first Sisters assigned to Chinle, Sr. Damacene Mehl and Sr. Roberta Cusack of the Hospital Sisters St. Francis with headquarters in Springfield, Illinois, arrived on 8/3/1961.

Sr. Roberta was relocated in 1962, but Sr. Damacene stayed, teaching catechism, giving out medicines, and running the Thrift Shop in the front nave of the Annunciation Mission since that space was freed up by the building of the cinder block church, a project finished on 3/7/1960.

Sr. Marilyn McCormack was in Chinle as of 10/17/1963, and Sr. Josephine Wiltrout came one or two years later, with the Bishop’s permission to teach music and English in the Public School, but Chinle administrators said, “No.”

When Sr. Damacene left on 3/17/1968, Srs. Loretta Torczynski, Josephine Wiltrout, and Bonita Wagner were there. Sr. Bonita reportedly came to the reservation in 1956 and served in Lukachukai before coming to Chinle in 1968 to take charge of the Thrift Shop.

The 1970s first brought Sr. Quinta Pampuch in 9/1971, to teach catechism, and to care for the Friary and the church. She soon became known for her garden, and for storing the produce she canned in the “Vegetable Room,” the room now called the “Ladies’ area” in the Thrift Shop.

We know that Srs. Bonita and Quinta were there with Frs. Davin and Galen, and Br. Erwin. In 1974, Sr. Jocelyn Serwatka and Jo Ann Schullian joined them for a while, and then Srs. Margaret Mary Chen and Viola Swobada arrived, and Loretta Torczynski returned to work in Chinle with others at the Chinle Valley School for Special Children.

Sr. Viola eventually served 25 years in both Lukachukai and Chinle, working as an RN at the Chinle Clinic, Chinle Hospital, and at the Chinle High School’s nursing department.

“Over the years, I found out that the Catholic Church was the only one that did not tell the Navajo people to abandon their traditions.” – Augusta Sandoval

The Parish hired Sr. Andre Burkhart, an Oldenburg Franciscan Sister, who served as a parish worker for two years before Sr. Margaret Bohn, a Racine Dominican Sister, arrived.

When Fr. Blane came in 7/1978, Srs. Bonita, Quinta, and Viola were stationed in Chinle, and were living in the building that first served as the Post Office/Interpreter’s House before being converted, remodeled, and renamed as the Convent.

Both Srs. Bonita and Quinta were actively involved in running the Thrift Shop which had already been moved out of the Annunciation Mission church into the recently remodeled “chicken coop” building.

In 1980, after the fire and troubles in Lukachukai, Srs. Celestine Rivera and John Spieler, who had been stationed in Lukachukai, came to Chinle for a while before returning to their Motherhouse in Springfield, Illinois.

By 6/1980, Sr. Viola had established a vegetable garden south of the Convent, and had planted grass as well as fruit and other trees out front. Given her gardening activities, a metal shed was added to the Convent area for garden tools and the like.

As of 1/1982, Srs. Bonita, Quinta, and Viola had been joined by Sr. Kenneth Wildt, giving Chinle four Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis; both Srs. Viola and Kenneth worked at the Clinic. The latter had been at the Page Hospital before coming to Chinle.

March, 1984 was a month in which both Srs. Bonita and Quinta broke their wrists. On 8/16/1984, Sr. Viola took a new job as an RN at the Chinle High School; on 9/9/1984, Sr. Quinta celebrated her 50th or Golden Jubilee.


“What’s cooking?” Above, left to right: Lorraine Martinez, Augusta Sandoval, and Sybil Baldwin.

Four years later, in 1988, Sr. Louise Benecke of the School Sisters of Notre Dame moved from the area close to the Chinle Nursing Home where she had been working for a year to a trailer by the Parish Hall. For the next two years, she worked at the Chinle High School where she developed and then taught a CNA or Certified Nursing Assistant program.

The Talbot House program opened in Chinle on 7/21/1981; it was first housed in a mobile home located by the Parish Hall and was under the directorship of Br. Dermot Conlon, a Carmelite Brother. He was followed in 1983 by co-directors Rudy Reyes and Sr. Jean Lynch, SBS.

In 1985, Sr. Emma Koenig replaced Sr. Jean as co-director. After she left in 5/1986, she was replaced in 6/68 by Sr. Miriam Koester. In 7/1986, Rudy Reyes was replaced by Freddie Brown, who remained as one of the co-directors until 6/1988.

For the last year that Sr. Miriam worked at the Talbot House, she was the only director. In 6/1989, Sr. Adelaide Link, Franciscan Sister of the Poor, became the new director. Sr. Adelaide started the Food Bank program and an AA family center at the Talbot House, and collaborated with other agencies in the Chinle area. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 4/2001.

In the 1990s, the picture changed several times. Sr. Ursula Leannah, SFP, came to live with Sr. Adelaide at the Talbot House in 9/1990; she stayed and worked at the Chinle High School until 7/92.

In the spring of 1991, Sr. Marguerite Cook of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, came to work at the Talbot House; she returned to the Motherhouse in Springfield, Illinois during the summer of 1992. Srs. Bonita and Quinta retired from mission work in 1991. While Sr. Kenneth took over the Thrift Shop duties for a while, both she and Sr. Viola left together late in the fall of 1992. After they departed, Sr. Adelaide moved into the Convent. The Thrift Shop remained open, with local people doing the work and the Talbot House providing the supervision.


Doing the dishes at St. Michaels. Left to right: Frs. Flann O’Neill, Davin Von Hagel, and Simon Conrad.

Three years later, in 1995, Sr. Margaret Bohn, OP, was added to the Parish staff and also moved into the Convent. Sr. Margaret coordinated the RCIA Program, Religious Education for children in the Parish, ministered at the Chinle Hospital and Chinle Nursing Home, and did home visiting. At present, the Chinle Parish staff also includes a Blessed Sacrament Sister: Sr. Christa McGil1, SBS, who ministers at St. Anthony’s Church in Many Farms.

In 2004, two more people celebrated their Golden Jubilees at Chinle: Fr. Blane in August, and Sr. Margaret in September.

Arrived bringing faith – Continuing in hope, joy, and love

“I remember going to CYO events in the back of the mail truck. I loved riding around in the Parish bus driven by my father, Ned C. Yazzie.” – Agatha Yazzie Spencer

The Chinle church and its people have traveled a long way together since the early years in Chinle. Yes, the Franciscans brought the Good News, Jesus, and the Gospel to the Navajos right from the beginning. But, for a long time, the major focus was by necessity on survival.

The Fathers and Brothers first had to learn to be self sufficient, grow and prepare their own food, tend to their own animals, draw and carry their own water, find and chop their own wood, cook and take care of their house. Before they could start trying to teach the Navajos about the faith they had brought, they needed to learn to speak and understand the Navajo language.

Then too, they needed to understand Navajo culture, its beliefs and practices, and many customs and traditions. This meant that in the beginning, the Friars faced struggles on all fronts; as they learned which Navajos lived in or traveled through their area, they also had to learn how their families were structured, where they lived, how groups were organized, and what the People believed in.


A group of Friars in Processional; the four Friars in front of the stained glass windows are, left to right: Frs. Max Lannert, Pius Winter, Gale Grieshop, and Cormac Antram.

While studying the language, the Franciscans also had to create dictionaries and grammar books. It is no wonder that they also wrote articles for journals and books on Navajo beliefs and practices. These were to educate others about the Navajos, their reservation, and cultural ways as well as about the Franciscans’ conditions, needs, and hopes and dreams.

With time, the Friars gathered enough census information to produce the first official census of the Navajo people and a very valuable Ethnologic Dictionary. They also produced numerous scholarly studies of Navajo culture, while developing teaching materials, catechisms, and translating prayers, songs, and various rituals and rites into Navajo for use in their religious education classes as well as Mass.

When Fr. Leopold came to Chinle, there were very few buildings, traders, other non-Navajos who could be befriended, and no school or other churches. As the rumors about a future boarding school became real, more people came to the area. Thus, the Friars were able to help the community get started and established by supporting the teachers and administrators, government agents, traders, parents and other relatives of school children, the children themselves, as well as the local Navajos and their headmen, or leaders. Individual priests needed to develop long lasting, trusting relationships and friendships with local Navajos. To do so, the Fathers and Brothers needed to be excellent linguists and well versed in Navajo culture. Most Friars were able to do this, despite the many funny names they were given by local Navajos. By being people- and community-oriented, sensitive, bright, inquisitive, and outgoing individuals willing to give of their time and energy, repeatedly the Friars demonstrated that the Church was really there for the Navajos.

This meant that morning, noon, and night, Fathers and Brothers spent time helping individuals or groups of people. Maybe someone was stuck in the mud or snow; maybe someone who had food and wood needed lodging; perhaps the need was for transportation, or some medicine, or even help with childbirth; maybe someone needed a deceased relative buried.

Perhaps a local leader needed a place for a meeting which included a field where the horses of those attending could graze safely; maybe a person needed to read or write a letter, understand some news or how to fill out a government form, or have an explanation of government policies and announcements, or even some of the rapid cultural changes characteristic of the times.

Such requests were both common and numerous as first Fr. Leopold, and then others became established in Chinle. The struggles were just as many, given the lack of paved roads or anything beyond horse or wagon trails, the lack of cars in the early years, and the great distances needing to be traveled, despite the always uplifting scenery.

Then, too, the Friary was not a hotel; like others, the Friars awaited the arrival of electricity, running water and inside bathrooms, telephones, and the like. But in spite of the conditions, first Fr. Leopold and then other Franciscans persevered, and gradually established themselves as solid members of the community, thanks at least in part to their acceptance by Chinle’s Navajos.

As boarding schools and later, day schools were built, the Friars became involved in education, and not just religious education, through the schools with both the children and the parents who came to Chinle to visit their children or for other reasons. The Friars quickly got to know the teachers and school administrators, the government employees and officials, the traders, and other business people stationed in the community. And rapidly, they made themselves part of the community.

They supported and helped with school programs, be these recreational movies, horse racing, foot races or other games, plays, sledding and skating in the winter, or other get togethers. They helped transport children to hills and ponds, to sports’ outings, and other events. Fr. Leopold often played the piano at the Boarding School on Saturday nights, and sometimes, even played with a local band.

The Friars also served as Postmasters many times, including from 1911 until 1925 for Fr. Leopold. Brothers frequently transported the mail by buggy or wagon, and later car, truck, or bus, giving people rides when possible. Visitors were always welcome at the Friary. Community members, eventually including even non-Catholic missionaries and their converts, considered the Friars their friends, and invited them to share meals and sometimes traveled with them to Ganado, St. Michaels, Gallup, or elsewhere, and in some cases, on more “R and R” trips to go hunting for deer, bears, coyotes, or other animals, or to visit parts of Canyon de Chelly.

These numerous ties demonstrate that the Friars served in many roles, all of which were important in the establishing and developing of the community. Centrally located, the Franciscans had their fingers on the pulse of things in Chinle, the comings and goings of Navajos and others, as well as on government plans and concerns.

From the beginning, the Friars visited the People in their hogans and sheep camps, as well as at sheep dips, ceremonies, rodeos, and other gatherings. Sometimes they walked; other times they rode horseback or traveled in wagons or buggies before they had access to a car. Fr. Leopold was known both for his horse, “Frank,” and his buggy, one that duplicated only one other one in the community, that belonging to the headman, Man Who Shouts.


Fifteen Friars planning the 50th Anniversary Celebration at St. Michaels in 1948. Left to right: Frs. Pius Winter, Pacian Meyer, Wilfrid Humbert, Caron Vollmer, Gale Grieshop, Silver Meyer, Emanuel Trockur, Elmer Von Hagel, Berard Haile, Dan Wefer, Blase Brickweg, Francis Borgman, Tom Blomstrom, Burcard Fisher, and Davin Von Hagel.

Conversion was slow but it began and from the beginning, was done always with respect for Navajo traditional ceremonies and cultural practices. The model was accommodation and among the ideas were those of incorporating as many Navajo cultural practices as possible, such as building churches and other structures so they faced east, having Navajo textiles on the floor, using the Navajo language, translating rituals into Navajo, having a hogan on the property for guests, and frequently drawing parallels and emphasizing the similarities in morality practices and core beliefs.

Fr. Berard Haile wrote many articles about why conversion could only come after deep study and acquisition of the Navajo language and a full understanding of Navajo culture. He and Fr. Anselm,

as well as Fr. Leopold and others, worked long and hard to champion the Navajos and their causes with the government in Washington, D.C.

In Chinle, at the Annunciation Mission, records show the following about the “firsts”:

The First Baptism was performed on 9/12/1907 for Leo Arnold by Fr. Leopold. The next several years included the following numbers of baptisms: 1908 – 1; 1911 – 2; 1912 – 3; 1913 – 9, but all were individually done. Early in 1914, five were baptized, but again each was done separately until 5/3/1914.

First Group Baptism and First Group Holy Communion. The 5/3/1914 ceremonies were for 18 boys and 24 girls. Fr. Marcellus baptized the boys with Albert G. Sandoval, Michael Edward Kirk, and John B. Foley each sponsoring six. Fr. Egbert Fischer baptized the girls, with Mrs. Albert G. Sandoval, Lucie Jobin, and Mary Carolina Tracey, each sponsoring eight.

The First Wedding was on 4/27/1912, and was performed by Fr. Leopold for Ethnobah Norcross and Albert G. “Chic” Sandoval. Roger W. Bishoff and Mary Kennedy were their sponsors.

The First Burial recorded in church records was on 7/7/1912 by Fr. Leopold for infant Mary Ayui.

With time, the mission center became well established and rather than worrying about survival, the Friars followed a schedule dictated by the school calendar, always seeming to run, run, run from early Fall through May to one place or another to provide classes and eventually to baptize individuals and groups, and then to follow them through their first Holy Communions and Confirmations.

As Friars changed, so did the Navajo nicknames for them, their personalities, attire, animals, or favorite activities. As some of the speakers recalled during the open mike sessions held during Chinle’s Centennial celebration, Fr. Pius was “Fr. Cowboy,” a man who loved hitting golf balls with his clubs when children were around to retrieve them; Br. Gotthard was the big eared chicken farmer; Fr. Frank was always with his dog, Dermot and Dermot’s pals.

Fr. Gale and Fr. Ivo were dedicated to CYO. Other memories included the suffocating rides to St. Michaels School under the canvas cover of a certain mail truck, and the importance of the Cursillo movement and RCIA. The Friars’ roles clearly changed as activities changed; with time, they willingly helped umpire Little League games, or assisted in other ways during softball and basketball events.

Church picnics brought horseshoe games, and once the Hall was built, roller skating became possible on certain evenings. Members helped build the Talbot House and install insulation, heaters, and the like. Some remembered marching two by two to the Mission from the Chinle Boarding School; the long horse and wagon trips to the Chinle church from Many Farms and Rough Rock; the teachings of Srs. Viola, Quinta, and Bonita about church behaviors and attire; the special scented gift bags and crocheted hats at Christmas; harsh discipline and discussion of certain topics, but always the activities and fun possible after classes were over, or treats by family members after Mass.

The remembrances shared during the open mike sessions as well as information in other sources make it clear that as of 1967, with the building and dedicating of the Parish Hall and the fresh ideas made possible by Vatican II, the social aspect of the Chinle Parish blossomed. Now it was possible for the Parish to consider service to the whole community.

The Hall rapidly became another Chinle Community Center. The much-needed space allowed people in the community to come together for meetings, weekly groups, training programs, and so forth. It allowed the Church to do more PR work, to build more rapport in the community, and to extend its hands to agencies, clubs, organizations, and offices, as well as to other individuals. While the Church had always had Many Farms as a mission, in 1981, Pinon, formerly a Parish with a resident priest, also became a mission in the Chinle parish. Thus, services were extended in another direction. One of the more recent highlights, of course, was the building, in 1989, of the beautiful hogan-shaped church with its many Navajo cultural elements therein.

In the architecture and these internal elements which far surpass artwork and decorative items, the Church is a powerful statement about the success of blending two ways, the symbols and practices of two cultures. It is also a statement about the rapport that exists among Native Peoples and the Franciscans and the orders represented by various Sisters, and the spirit of respect for Navajo culture which now characterizes the Church.


Fr. Ivo Zirkelbach (in foreground) in Chinle with three Sisters; Fr: Larry Schreiber in the background.

As one Navajo member said, “The Hogan Church recognizes and incorporates what we are as people; it says that the Church lets us be.” Others said that since the late Pope John Paul II recognized Native Americans and led the Church in services of forgiveness and reconciliation for past offenses, they now feel at peace and at home in the Hogan Church. Several people said, “Other religions are busy trying to tell us not to use our medicine people, or to throw away the sacred medicine bundles they use in the ceremonies. But the Catholics don’t do that; the Church doesn’t denounce us or our traditions, or say our traditional practices are evil ways.”


Fr.. Adam Wethington talking with some Navajo friends.

It is important to remember that the Church is more than a building; it is filled with the People of God, all of whom are “living stones.” Since this was the theme of the dedication of the new Hogan Church, each participant signified that he/she would continue being a “living stone” by taking home a small piece of petrified wood at the end of the celebration.

That spirit now reaches out and emphasizes community. All of the people are now working to make the community of Chinle as well as the church community a better place to live. This is obvious not just in the welcome one feels in the church, but also in the programs held and community groups that use the Hall, as well as the programs sponsored by the Talbot House and by the Our Lady of Fatima Parish itself. The Church has become people-focused and the mission clearly is to help all ages, including the young, teens, the troubled, and all the rest. A community spirit prevails; “let’s make it fun, let’s get together and share a meal, a picnic, an outing, whatever” now seems to be the unspoken motto.

The memories voiced also recalled jokes shared in school classes, during choir practices especially when the Mass was in Latin, or while sitting in the upstairs balcony of the Annunciation Mission (or old church).

They also included those of numerous social events, celebrations, surprise parties, the Parish’s 75th anniversary, jubilee celebrations, goodbye parties, Parish picnics, the Easter Vigil and sunrise service, the mens’ barbeque and pancake breakfasts, the interfaith baccalaureate for graduating seniors, Christmas tree-cutting parties in the forest, Fr. Blase with Reed Winney doing Mass in the Lukachukai rodeo grounds, Fr. Conall and Reed Winney holding Mass at the Valley Store Trading Post, Reed Winney and Fr. Cormac’s radio program, Joe Carroll’s interpreting for Fr. Anselm Sippel with the latter’s “bumblebee buzzing voice,” the importance of Wilson Hunter, Sr., and “Grandma Agnes Begay” for inspiring others to go to church and in Begay’s case, offering her own home as a place to hold services in the early years in Many Farms.

But also running through the memories were those of special prayers, and support and assistance provided by the Friars and members of the Parish in times of trouble and sadness; their willingness to do home visits and bring Mass to the sick and incapacitated; the prayers and services for those in the Armed Services.

Historically, many of those speaking during the April, 2005 open mike sessions were children or grandchildren of people historically important in the community or in the Navajo Nation. For example, both Albert G “Chic” Sandoval and Frank Mitchell helped around the Chinle Friary and with building of the Boarding School. Frank, who earlier had helped at St. Michaels mission, was also one of three Blessingway singers who worked with Fr. Berard Haile in the 1930s to record the ceremony. It was not published until it was edited by Leland C. Wyman (1970), after Fr. Berard’s death. The importance of the Blessingway in the lives of Frank and his wife, Tall Woman, is obvious in their life stories (Mitchell 2001; Mitchell 2003) as well as in the life history of another well known person from Chinle, Irene Stewart (Stewart 1980).

Albert G “Chic” Sandoval and Reed Winney continued to be fondly remembered and recognized for their interpreting skills. The contributions and influences of Wilson Hunter, Sr. and Agnes Begay were also recalled and acknowledged, as were the long amounts of time it took to travel by horse and wagon on unpaved roads, and what Chinle looked like in earlier times.

The latter memories included the Big House, a two-story trading post that stood right across from the mission from at least 1916 until it was demolished in 1960 (Frisbie 1998), and Garcia’s Trading post – now the site of the Holiday Inn.

Memories change with time, just as do the people sharing them. During the Centennial’s first open mike session, participants heard from Friars and Sisters formerly stationed in Chinle. These memories, and published sources, make it clear that over the years, as these individuals traveled and worked in different places on the Navajo Nation, they, too, became aware that they were being taught and blessed by the People.

Among the gifts most treasured have been the glimpses into and understandings of the richness of Navajo culture, its language, and its many traditional practices and patterns that have been willingly shared with them.

Thus, the Franciscan journey on the Navajo Reservation has been a two-way street, a two-way exchange from the very beginning. It is our hope that the resulting blending and sharing will continue to enrich lives in the future.


Fr. Leopold Ostermann, as shown in the text, held his first service in Chinle on 9/23/1903, almost five months after local Navajos approved the Franciscan proposal to build a church and related buildings in the area. On 8/15/1904, Fr. Leopold with Br. Placidus Buerger began part—time residence in Chinle using a rented stone building as their base. The Franciscans chose the exact location for their mission within their 160 acre federally approved set-aside land on 8/15/1905, and ground was broken for the construction of the Friary on 8/16/1905. Br. Placidus left in 11/1905 because of illness, and died on 2/19/1906, never having seen the residence. Fr. Leopold moved into it in 1/1906, before it was done, and it is likely that Br. Gervase Thuemmel was sent to Chinle in 8/1906, to help with the completion and other work. The list below begins with the permanent residents in the Friary after it was raised to a residence on 7/24/1907. Staff changes were usually made in July, but sometimes in August of any given year.

Year  – Franciscan Father – Franciscan Brother

1907-09 – Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Fr. Marcellus Troester, Br. Gervase Thuemmel

Fr. Leopold did his first baptism in Chinle on 9/12/1907, for Leo Arnold. The Chinle BIA Boarding school was ordered built on 7/8/1909, and was under construction in the fall and winter, 1909-1910. It opened on 4/1/1910 with a few buildings and 49 students. Both buildings and the numbers of students continued to grow.

1910 – Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Fr. Fintan Zumbahlen, Br. Gervase Thuemmel

The Franciscans built their Annunciation Mission and the stone Post Office/Interpreter’s House next to it in 1910 and had both in use by 7/18/1911, if not sooner. Nelson Gorman built and opened his trading post in Chinle in 1910, the same year that the first automobiles were seen in Chinle. Fr. Leopold began serving as Chinle’s Postmaster in 1911, taking over the job held by Charley Day from 1903 through 1910.

1911 – 14 – Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Fr. Marcellus Troester, Br. Gervase Thuemmel


The Annunciation Mission was finally dedicated on 3/25/1912. On 4/27/12, Fr. Leopold officiated over the first wedding in the church; later that year, on 7/7/12, he officiated over the first burial in the Cemetery associated with the Annunciation Mission. That same year, the Fort Defiance Hospital was built. The First World War started in 1914. On 5/3/14, Fr. Leopold presented his first big group for Baptism and Holy Communion in Chinle, with Frs. Marcellus and Egbert performing the ceremonies. Also in 1914, the “St. Joseph” bell donated by Rev. J os. Wernke to the Chinle Mission was cast by the Buckeye Bell Foundry, later known as the E. W. Vanduzen Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. We do not yet know when it arrived in Chinle or how it was transported, but photographs show it in its wooden wheeled frame beside the stone church at least by 1924.

1915 – Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Fr. Sixtus Kopp, Br. Fidelis (Fidel) Koper

1916 – Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Fr. Lawrence Rossmann, Br. Fidelis Koper

Hubbell’s two-story trading post/hotel, called the Big House, was built directly across from the Friary in 1916. George and Jean Kennedy bought the old Sam Day Trading Post in the spring of that year.

1917 – Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Fr. Ludger Oldegeering, Br. Fidelis Koper

1918 -Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Br. Fidelis Koper

In October, the influenza epidemic struck and many died. In December, J . L. Hubbell sold the Big House to C.N. Cotton.

1919-23 – Fr. Leopold Ostermann, Br. Julian Elpers

In the spring, 1919, the influeza epidemic briefly returned to some areas. The Kennedys sold their trading post to Cozy McSparron who soon named it the Thunderbird Ranch. Nelson and Alice Gorman decided to give their Chinle trading post, home, and barns to the Presbyterians, and by 1921, the Presbyterians had finally established themselves in Chinle. Construction of the Presbyterian church and manse began that April. In the late fall, 1919 or early 1920, C. N. Cotton hired Camillo Garcia to manage the Big House and the Garcia family moved to Chinle. National prohibition, 1920-33. In 1921, the first Presbyterian pastor, Rev. A. K. Locker and wife arrived in Chinle. In 1922, the three person Business Council met for the first time to negotiate oil leases for the Navajos. In 1923, the first Tribal Council was elected; it met for the first time on 7/7/23. Henry Chee Dodge served as the first Tribal Chairman, 1923-28. In 1923, Cozy McSparron, Camillo Garcia, and Hartley Seymour (C.N. Cotton’s son-in-law) reportedly purchased all three Chinle Trading Posts; Cozy agreed to focus on the Thunderbird and Camillo acquired the store developed on the 1886 Hubbell-Cotton site by later owners, including John Kirk. Soon, this store became the Canyon de Chelly Trading Post. The three agreed to close the store at the Big House.

1924 – Fr. Emanuel Trockur, Br. Reinhold Koesters

U.S. Citizenship extended to all Native Americans. The Presbyterians Rev. and Mrs. Locker departed, being replaced in Chinle in July by Rev. Charles Bysegger and his wife, Rose, who stayed until 1952.

1925 – Fr. Emanuel Trockur, Fr. Clementine Wottle (just to build ice house), Br. Gervase Thuemmel

Fr. Leopold became ill in 2/1925; for periods during the next several years, he was replaced in Chinle by others. The Ice House, also known as the Tool shop, carpenter’s shop, and/or shed, was built west of the Friary during the 3/1925-8/1925 period. At this time, at least part of the Chicken Coop building existed. Records show the Friars kept chickens from before 1934 until 10/56.

1926 – Fr. Emanuel Trockur, Fr. Clementine Wottle, Br. Reinhold Koesters

The Presbyterians started instructions at the Chinle Boarding School.

1927 – Fr. Emanuel Trockur, Fr. Clementine Wottle, Br. Edward Chavez

1928-29 – Fr. Mathias Heile

Chapter program introduced on the reservation, 1927-28. Fr. Leopold was finally ordered to a lower altitude in 1928, and left Chinle for good. The Great National Depression, 1929-39.

1930 – Fr. Remegius (Remy) Austing

Fr. Leopold died in Roswell, NM on 4/10/1930. During that year, Frank Mitchell recorded the Blessingway myth for Fr. Berard Haile, St. Michaels. In the early 1930s, an Accommodation School was built in Chinle on the hill behind the Boarding School. This one or two room building housed the Chinle Public School until 1959.

1931 – Fr. Frederic Hartung, Br. Liborius Springob

A Presidential proclamation created Canyon de Chelly National Monument on 4/1/1931.

1932 – Fr. Anselm Sippel, Br. Liborius Springob

Chinle got a health center, including a 15-bed hospital. In 1950, this was converted to a clinic. On 9/18/32, Fr. Berard Haile and others, including Navajo ceremonialists, made the first of many trips to one of the sacred mountains on the reservation.

1933 – Fr. Odwin Hudiburgh, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

Start of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, which included John Collier as Indian Commissioner, the New Deal era, and many new programs. Reservation reorganized with one general superintendent and Window Rock as the new capital. Grazing surveys begun. Winter of 1933-34 brought the start of voluntary stock reduction.

1934-36 – Fr. Anselm Sippel, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

Indian Reorganization Act, IRA, 1934. The Canyon de Chelly/Canyon del Muerto Chapter was organized in 1934, if not earlier, in 1926, as some claim. A shed addition was added to the Friary on the northwest end in 5/1935. The Chinle rodeo started in the summer of 1935. The Annunciation Mission Cemetery was deemed “full” on 11/11/1935, and the Friars began burying deceased Navajos “across the Wash” in the cemetery near the grounds of the Visitors Center at Canyon de Chelly National Monument (an area now fenced), if not on family land. In 1936, enforced stock reduction began, and land management units and grazing districts were established. During the fall of 1936, the Annunciation Mission was cabled in four directions to increase stability, and the foundation was reinforced. From December, 1936 through March 9, 1937, the Tribal Council was reorganized. The reservation was canvassed by Fr. Berard Haile, E. R. Fryer, Chee Dodge, and Dashne to identify possible men for a new Constitutional Assembly.

1937-38 – Fr. Anselm Sippel, Br. Gotthard Schmidt, Br. David Fekete

Committee picked members of new Constitutional Assembly, 3/10/37; group met for first time 4/9-10/37 and worked on a constitution until 10/25/37; document not accepted in Washington, D.C. In 8/1938, construction started on the stone church at Pinon, AZ. The church, St. Mary of the Rosary, was first used for midnight Mass on 12/24/1939.

1939 – Fr. Silverius (Silver) Meyer, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

1940 – Fr. Francis Borgman, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

Livestock permit system implemented.

1941 – Fr. Francis Borgman, Br. Gotthard Schmidt, Br. Brendan Cahill

Federal government settled the spelling of Chinle. Mo. Katharine Drexel’s Golden Jubilee, 4/18-20 at Motherhouse in Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania. U.S. entered World War II on 12/7, after Pearl Harbor was bombed. The Navajo Code Talkers played an important role in defense during this war.

1942 – Fr. Francis Borgman, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

1943 – Fr. Francis Borgman, Fr. Elmer Von Hagel, Br. Gotthard Schmidt, Br. Florence Mayrand

1944 – Fr. Francis Borgman, Fr. Herbert Effler, Br. Gotthard Schmidt, Br. Florence Mayrand

1945 – Fr. Mark Sandford, Br. Gotthard Schmidt, Br. Florence Mayrand

1946 – Fr. Mark Sandford, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

On 3/30/1946, the Chinle Community Cemetery was opened, bringing to an end burials in the cemetery by the Visitors Center mentioned above (see 1935). St. Michaels Mission High School opened. First annual Window Rock Fair.

1947 – Fr. Mark Sandford, Fr. Davin Von Hagel, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

1948-49 – Fr. Mark Sandford, Fr. Pius Winter, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

Irene Stewart started 15 years as Secretary of Chinle Chapter in 1948; Joe Carroll started 16 years as Tribal Council delegate during the same year.

1950 – Fr. Blase Brickweg, Fr. Pius Winter, Fr. G. Howard Meyer, Fr. Daniel Wefer, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

1951 – Fr. Pacian Meyer, Fr. Daniel Wefer, Br. Gotthard Schmidt

Decade of progress, growth, and change in Chinle. The Big House, no longer being used for any reason, started to fall into ruin after roof collapsed.

1952-53 – Fr. Daniel Wefer, Br. Florence Mayrand

Rev. and Mrs. Charles Bysegger left Chinle’s Presbyterian Church in 6/52; replaced by Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Gray on 6/15/53. Paving of the road from Window Rock to Ganado finished in 1953.

1954 – Fr. Daniel Wefer, Fr. Maxim Lannert, Br. Florence Mayrand

1955 – Fr. Daniel Wefer, Fr. Maxim Lannert, Br. Adrian Schrader

1956 – Fr. Conall Lynch, Fr. Maxim Lannert, Br. Adrian Schrader

In 10/1956, the Friars went out of the chicken/egg business and all of the remaining chickens were removed. In Pinon, bad cracks, settling, and other serious problems too numerous to fix made the need for a new church a priority. Fund raising started for the project.

1957 – Fr. Pius Winter, Fr. Maxim Lannert, Br. Marian Battaglia

In June, 1957 (6/11-14), the concrete floor was poured in the Chicken Coop, and the building’s west end was remodeled for use as living space by outsiders working at the mission, starting in 1959.

1958 – Fr. Pius Winter, Fr. Maxim Lannert

In August, 1958, construction work started on the new church in Pinon; Friars did much of the work. The first resident priest, Fr. Caron Vollmer, arrived in 7/1959. Population increased, businesses expanded, services were upgraded, and there was much construction in Chinle from 1958 until 1962. New Chapter house was built in 1958.

1959 – Fr. Pius Winter, Fr. Valentine Young

The road from Ganado to Chinle was paved in 1959, the same year a new PHS Health Center opened in Chinle. Construction of a new Boarding School and personnel housing started in 1959; opened 10/3/1960. Construction of the new cinder block church, northeast of the Friary got underway 8/1/59-3/27/60.

1960 – Fr. Pius Winter, Fr. Cormac Antram

New church dedicated on 3/27/1960 in honor of Our Lady of Fatima; this is when the name changed from the Annunciation Mission to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church.

1961-62 – Fr. Pius Winter, Fr. Ivo Zirkelbach

The new Chinle Law and Order complex built with court, jail, and police substation, 1961. On 6/6/1961, all missions outside of St. Michaels were designated as parishes in their own right. The first Sisters arrived in Chinle on 8/3/1961. Sr. Damacene established a Thrift Shop in the front nave of the Annunciation Mission. Construction of a new Chinle High School started. On 10/1/62, Camillo Garcia and his son, Abel of Garcia’s Canyon de Chelly Trading Post were killed in a private airplane crash at night on the Chinle airstrip.

1963 – Fr. Cormac Antram, Fr. Ivo Zirkelbach

The paved road was extended north from Chinle to Many Farms. The East addition to the Interpreter’s House, now renamed the Convent, was built between 12/12/63 and 1/17/64.

1964 – Fr. Cormac Antram, Fr. Alexis Ripperger

In 1964, Fr. Ivo made major changes to the inside of the Annunciation Mission, including removal of altars and partitions which formed the sacristy and sanctuary to create space for the CYO Program. He also tore down the old, open garage at the mission before leaving in 1964. A new N PS Visitor Center was completed in June at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. On 7/31/64, heavy rains in the early evening hours washed out the concrete bridge over the Nazlini Wash, leading to seven deaths that night, Chinle’s worst disaster, and multiple funerals on 8/4 at Our Lady of Fatima.

1965 – Fr. Cormac Antram, Fr. Bryant Hausfeld, Br. Francis X. Evans

8/28 – Hubbell’s Trading Post in Ganado became a National Historic Site.

1966 – Fr. Cormac Antram, Fr. Simon Conrad, Br. Francis X. Evans

New legal services, DNA, were established in Window Rock. A bridge was built over the Chinle Wash, increasing access to Canyon del Muerto.

1967-68 – Fr. Adam Wethington, Fr. Bryant Hausfeld, Br. Erwin Strohofer

The new Church Hall, erected in 1967, was blessed on 9/24/1967, the same day that St. Anthony’s Mission in Many Farms, AZ was dedicated. In October, the Tribal Council passed the Declaration of Basic Navajo Human Rights. In 6/1968, a dormer was added in the north roof of the Friary.

1969 – Fr. Davin Von Hagel, Fr. Bryant Hausfeld, Fr. Bart Pax, Br. Erwin Stohofer

The Chinle Post Office moved to a new building on the former site of the Big House. The trading post function of the Thunderbird was ended; the old post was converted into a restaurant.

1970-72 – Fr. Davin Von Hagel, Fr. Galen Hoffmann, Fr. Bart Pax, Br. Erwin Stohofer

The West end addition to the Convent was built in the summer of 1970. Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Gray retired and left Trinity Presbyterian Church, Chinle, on 8/31/72.

1973-74 – Fr. Davin Von Hagel, Fr. Galen Hoffmann, Br. Arthur Puthoff

1974 – Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act

1975 – Fr. Davin Von Hagel, Fr. Pacian Meyer, Br. Arthur Puthoff

1/4/75 -Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act

1976 – Fr. Bryant Hausfeld, Fr. Pacian Meyer, Br. Arthur Puthoff

In January, new Trader laws took effect on the reservation; the Indian Health Care Improvement Act was passed. Remodeling of the downstairs‘ bedrooms and bathroom in the Friary as well as the upstairs rooms took place in 1976-77, as did the switch of the dining room and kitchen with appropriate remodeling of each room (if this switch was not made in 1974-75).

1977 – Fr. Bryant Hausfeld, Fr. Thomas Schellenbach, Br. Scott Obrecht, Br. Glenn Humphrey

Start of Relocation. Beginning of five years of planning and development for Chinle’s Comprehensive Health Care Facility with its interior native healing science room. Tribe created the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department. In the fall of 1977, the Chicken coop was remodeled to convert it into a Thrift Shop.

1978 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Thomas Schellenbach, Br. Glenn Humphrey, Br. Jerome Beetz

August: American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA). Our Lady of Fatima Parish celebrated its 75th anniversary, 9/24/78.

1979 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Thomas Schellenbach, Br. Jerome Beetz

Planning started for Chinle’s Tseyi’ Mall.

1980 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Thomas Schellenbach, Br. Vernon Spirk

Windbreak back porch addition to the Friary, 5/5-29/1980.

1981 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Thomas Schellenbach, Br. Vernon Spirk

New Chapter House built in Chinle for Chinle/Canyon del Muerto; 3/14 – Bashas’ Supermarket was dedicated in the Mall. Talbot House program opened in a trailer near the Hall, 7/21/1981. In 12/1981, a fireplace was added to the south wall of the Friary’s living room. On 12/1/1981, the Piñon parish became a mission under the care of the Chinle parish.

1982-85 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Frank Geers, Br. Vernon Spirk

8/28/82 – The new Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility was dedicated. A permanent structure for the Talbot House was erected south of the Thrift Shop during the fall of 1982, and dedicated on 12/5/1982. The old Chapter House and old preschool were demolished in 1984. That same year, the Piñon church was remodeled under the direction of Fr. Blane. On 11/16/1984, the newly remodeled hogan church and hall at Pinon were blessed. Late in 1985 or early in 1986, Garcia’s Trading Post was closed.

1986 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Frank Geers

1987-89 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Hilary Brzezinski

1988 – Discussions started about planning for a new Our Lady of Fatima Church. Summer, 1989: Parishioners tore down the cinder block church. A new hogan-shaped church was built during the fall of 1989, and first used for midnight Mass, 12/24/89.

1990 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Hilary Brzezinski

The new hogan-shaped Our Lady of Fatima Church was dedicated on 6/3/1990.

1991-92 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Hilary Brzezinski

6/7/92 – Construction of the Holiday Inn started on the site of the former Garcia Trading Post.

1993 – Fr. Blane Grein

1994-98 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Pio O’Connor

8/3-11/96 – 75th Annual Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial; 8/31-9/8/96 – Navajo Nation Fair’s Golden Anniversary, Window Rock. 8/11/97 – Dedication of the new Navajo Nation Museum and Library in Window Rock. 10/18/97 – The first of the Franciscan Centennial celebrations marking the east, in Crownpoint. Franciscan celebration in the south, at Ganado, 2/21/98; in the west, at Tuba City, 4/21; in the north, at Shiprock, 6/13. Final Franciscan Centennial Celebration at St. Michaels, 10/3/98. 10/7/98 – Navajo Nation Day of Recognition and Appreciation for the Franciscans by Navajo Nation Proclamation. Surprise celebration in August, 1998 for Fr. Blane’s 20th anniversary in Chinle with a surprise gift from the parish of a return trip to the Philippines. Work started on future home of the Central Youth Corrections Center in Chinle.

1999-2003 – Fr. Blane Grein

Fr. Blane made his return trip to the Philippines in January-February, 1999. During the summer of 1999, the Annunciation Mission cemetery was cleaned up and refurbished with a new fence and central cross, formerly used in the cinder block church. On 4/29/2001, Sr. Adelaide celebrated her Golden Jubilee. During the summer of 2001, the Thrift Shop was repaired, here and there, on the outside while also being remodeled inside to change some doorways and create a Ladies’ area. In June and July of 2002, Fr. Blane had a sabbatical of a 24 day Study Pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi; on his return home, he stopped in the Philippines for two weeks. During that same summer, a hogan formerly used in Manuelito was disassembled, brought to Chinle, reassembled north of the Hall, and then blessed on 10/18/2002.

2004-2005 – Fr. Blane Grein, Fr. Patrick Kevin Flanigan

On 8/15/2004, Fr. Blane celebrated his Golden Jubilee, and on 9/19/2004, Sr. Margaret celebrated hers. The Centennial Celebration in Chinle began on 4/10/05, with a special Mass. This was followed by two open microphone sessions, on 4/21 to encourage Friars and Sisters formerly stationed in Chinle to share their memories of “how it was,” and on 4/24 to ask Parishioners, especially the older ones, to do the same during a potluck meal. The Jubilee year continued with celebrating the Tekakwitha Conference, 7/20-24 in Tucson, AZ as a parish. The final event was the Mass of Jubilee with Bishop Pelotte on Sunday, 10/16/05, followed by a meal and program in the Hall.

Current Pastor – PJ Pabatao
Parochial Vicar – Joseph Gonsalves