By Eleanor Deckert
Somehow the Lord can bring people into your life just when you need them. Father Emil Sasges has been such a person for me.
When I first came to the North Thompson Valley as a young bride, I was thousands of miles away from my home, church, friends and family. His pastoral visits, caring wisdom, warm humor, meaningful songs and ever-ready smiles have nourished my family over the years. I still remember this song he taught me 24 years ago, which remains a comfort to me in times of doubt and troubles:
“Do you know who you are? Can you see with my eyes? Have you heard what I said in my Word? Do you know who you are? If I am a Father then you are a child and all that you need I will give. Let your heart be at rest, I’ll do what is best for I said I have come that you may live.”
Father Emil Sasges, ordained in 1957, is the longest serving priest in the Kamloops Diocese.
He has served as the traveling pastor for the North Thompson Valley three times: 1965-1976, 1983-1988 and, although currently “retired,” has been serving Valemount and Blue River since 2007.
When I realized he was approaching his 80th birthday, I was curious about two things: “Why did you decide to ‘retire’ in such a small, remote community?” and “Why is it so important to you that you continue traveling such distances to lead Mass every week?”
“The Mass is the very heartbeat of the Church. It is life for me. It is as basic as breathing.”
With his many years of service in the small remote towns of B.C., Father Sasges states, ”I am at home in remote places. When I offer Mass to one person, it is communion first with the Lord and also with all the others who respond to the Lord, all over the world.”
You might see him at the library, out for a hike, picking berries, zipping along on his bicycle, in summer swimming in the lake, in winter skating on the ice. You might notice his keen interest in children.
You might have needed to speak to him in confidence, seek instruction, and ask him to clarify some doubt.
You might have memories of him designing the church in Valemount or the Catholic Centre in Blue River. You might have been one of the volunteers who donated time and materials to construct, furnish, maintain and repair these buildings.
Whatever your connection to Father Emil Sasges, it is certain that you want to join in wishing him the best on the celebration of his on his 80th birthday which took place on Feb. 6, 2011.
Father Sasges currently offers Mass on Sunday at 5 p.m. and Monday and Tuesday at 9 a.m. at Our Lady of the Snow, in Blue River, B.C.