In 1934, Aztec, New Mexico was a village two blocks long with a motel on one end and a corner grocery store on the other end. Most of the population lived on scattered ranches. There were only four Catholic families among the citizenry of Aztec.
Situated close to an old sacred Navaho ceremonial spring in a sea of gray-green sage against a background of masses of tawny, orange-red sandstone cliffs which buttress the soaring pine-clad heights of the Lukachukai Mountains is located the picturesque Saint Isabel Navaho Mission.
"Finally the wind capsized the boat and both Father Dacian and I went into the lake. After clinging to the boat for what seemed like half a day, we finally got to shallow enough water to stand and upright the boat."
The railroad, which had been extended from Durango to Farmington in 1905, caused a major surge in activity in the small town, so much so that Father Garnier moved to Farmington three years later, in 1908, since there were more baptisms by that time than there were in Blanco.
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.
The community is home to the second oldest Catholic Church on the Navajo reservation, and the ﬁrst pioneer post, mission station, or outreach site established by the Franciscans after they had started the school at St. Michaels and were ready to expand from their home base.