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One of the Antarctic's few priests departs

2015-09-05

More than half a century ago, the Catholic Church in New Zealand sent a priest to Antarctica to celebrate Mass and provide support for researchers and other workers. The tradition went on for decades, with different priests spending the summer months at the base.

The arrangement was made possible because the Church worked with the National Science Foundation, an American government agency that manages the U.S. mission in Antarctica. A nondenominational chapel was even built, and it is known as the Chapel of the Snows.

But for years, budgets have declined. Fewer people work at the base, and less people were attending Mass or seeking help from the priests.

The NSF recently announced that it had come to an agreement with the priest who coordinated the Antarctic ministry, and that priests would no longer be deployed there.

But the few Catholics who remain won't be totally out of luck. According to the National Science Foundation, the Catholic community "will continue to be served by U.S. Air Force Catholic chaplains.”


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