Volume 3, Number 31 - October 30, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Mary Caucutt bids farewell
Back in 1996, the Reverend Mary Caucutt promised four years to her parish at St. Andrew's in the Pines Episcopal Church. Now, seven-and-a-half years later, she is bidding farewell to her church, her congregation, her community and her mountains as she prepares to leave for Newton, Mass., a Boston suburb, to rector at St. John's Episcopal Parish.
Mary said all Episcopal churches have a profile in the grand computer-listing-in-the-sky and priests make a profile of who they are looking for.
"Maybe once a month I get a solicitation saying I could be a match. When I got the solicitation from Massachusetts, I felt they had a similar spirit as at St Andrew's in a diverse, dynamic area," she said. Since she went to seminary in Boston, she is familiar with the area.
A lot has happened to Mary since she worked at a large St. Louis parish and traveled to Pinedale to go backpacking in the Wind River Range. She said she saw the little log church and figured some little retired fly fisherman was ensconced as pastor.
Upon returning to St. Louis, she found St. Andrew's on the National Episcopal Church Registry, and decided it must be sort of a sign.
"So I put my name in ... I didn't know if God was going to call me to work in Pinedale at St. Andrew's or if it was like a piece of candy, to get me off my duff," Mary said.
Eight years ago she got a call late one night from Dave Lankford, wanting an interview. "I felt like it was right ... the place where I was being called to be," she said.
"I think it was amazing and I am so grateful that this congregation was willing to take a chance on a 29-year-old pastorwoman, to let me come work with them."
In the beginning, everything wasn't all cut-and-dried for Mary.
"They took a risk on me - it was scary on my end to come, with no family, a single woman, and they wanted me to promise four years," she said. "I wasn't sure I could survive in this rural western climate, but the small town was fantastic ... nothing like what I had thought of a small town in the Midwest (where I'm from)."
So in February of 1996, she moved lock, stock and barrel to Pinedale, although not to St. Andrew's vicarage to begin with. The residence, which was being renovated, wasn't ready for occupancy, so Mary spent a month living with Pat Jackson.
"Pat graciously offered her upstairs to me ... It was good to stay with a long-time community person since I learned about the people and who they were related to. I really got a jump start on the church and the town," Mary said.
Once she got used to the new parish and new community, her four-year promise came and went, and now seven-and-a-half years later, she's finally leaving.
But when she goes back East, it won't be as a single woman with no family. See, a funny thing happened in the mountains that drew Mary to Pinedale - maybe it was all pre-ordained, who knows?
While skiing at White Pine Resort, she met her future husband, Casey Horton, a Green River native. Mary said theirs was a nice, local romance that culminated on Jan. 6 2001, when they wed at St. Andrew's. Their reception was the first function at White Pine's new lodge, which had to be completed to accommodate the reception.
Unlike Mary, Casey has never lived in the city. "I came out here, to this small-town experience, and was willing to give it four years and now we're doing it in reverse - I am asking Casey to give it four years, in the city," Mary said.
They hope to come back West, but Mary said it's hard to think of coming back here because there are not a lot of opportunities.
"So I think it would be nice to come back to Wyoming, but definitely somewhere in the mountain west," Mary said.
Mary's involvement went beyond that of St. Andrew's and its parish. Her community has always been an integral part of her stay here.
She said there are always interesting things at the schools, the fine arts, exploring, ranching and the oilfield.
"There's always something interesting and new and the people who live here ... the power of the land draws an interesting group of people here," she said.
"To me, I think that's what this job as church leaders is - not just to be present on Sunday morning, but to be involved in the community."
The hospice program took up a lot of her time, and she was also on the Sublette Community Counseling board.
She was president of the board when newly married and resigned after being on the board four years.
Mary said her conviction is that the church isn't separate from the world, but connected to it.
"We must be able to be out and about - we try to have a community church focus," she said. "We do funerals for people who are not part of the church; you don't have to be a member to have me in your life. It's helpful for people to know there's a clergyperson you can call even if you don't belong to the church."
Mary has mixed feelings about leaving her niche in Pinedale.
"The people and quality of the community made me stay and, of course, the mountains - skiing, hiking and exploring in summer," she said. "I'm excited about the opportunity to be involved in a larger challenge and new learning. But it's hard to leave the people I know and the life I have here."
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