Two new smiling faces arrived at St. Michael's Catholic Church on Wednesday.
The Rev. James Fox and the Rev. Jose Saenz will be the new priests for St. Michael's in Craig, as well as its two mission parishes, St. Ignatius in Rangely and Holy Family in Meeker.
Archbishop Charles Chaput and the personnel board of the Archdiocese of Denver felt the "two priests for two counties" arrangement was successful and should be continued after the relocation of St. Michael's former priests, the Rev. Roger Lascelle and the Rev. Ernest Bayer.
While Saenz and Fox's move to Craig is new, their relationship isn't. Saenz was an intern at Fox's congregation in Denver three years ago, and their trusting relationship is obvious from their constant laughter.
"You've heard of 'Dumb and Dumber'? Well, we're corny and cornier," Fox joked.
Saenz was ordained in Denver less than two months ago, and this is his first assignment as a priest.
The Texas native said his impressions from his first days in the community were great.
"Everyone I have met so far has been a volunteer in the church or the community," he said.
Saenz is bilingual and hopes to bring experience in Spanish ministry to their new community. Both priests also enjoy youth ministry.
Saenz will be assistant pastor to Fox, who was pastor at St. Mark Catholic Church in Westminster for the past eight years.
Fox said he couldn't be happier with the move to a smaller community.
"The pace (of big city congregations) is a little unrealistic," he said.
Outside the church, both priests are looking forward to exploring the outdoors that Northwest Colorado has to offer. Fox already has his fishing poles ready, and Saenz wants to take advantage of the hiking trails.
They coached a winning softball team together when they were in the same congregation, and though they said they are trying to be realistic about their initial involvement with the community, another swing at softball isn't out of the question.
Everyone at St. Michael's wishes the former pastors the best of luck on their new assignments. Lascelle has been assigned pastor of St. Joseph parish in Fort Collins, and Bayer has been assigned to be the parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Denver.