Memorial Mass for Fr. Stuart Long set Aug. 30 at Holy Angels

A Memorial Mass is scheduled Aug. 30, 10 a.m., at Holy Angels Church, Arcadia, for Father Stuart Long, 50, who died June 9 in Helena, Montana, after a long illness. Father Long joined Holy Angels through the RCIA and was a longtime parishioner there before becoming a priest.

Father Long felt a call to the priesthood as he was baptized in 1994 at Holy Angels by Msgr. Norm Priebe, and he decided to teach religion at Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills for three years (1997-2000) before entering the seminary. A former boxer during his college years at Carroll College in Helena, Father Long also coached wrestling at Alemany.

He had originally moved to Los Angeles intent on breaking into movies after a boxing injury requiring reconstructive jaw surgery nipped his planned career as a prizefighter in the bud. Though he made some commercials and had a few bit parts, he eventually took a position with the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where he rose to become manager, a position he held for seven years.

Riding his motorcycle home from the museum one evening, he was struck by a car, then run over by another. This close brush with death was a turning point in his life, prompting an exploration of religious faith that ultimately led to his baptism as a Roman Catholic.

He later earned a master’s degree in philosophy at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and received his priestly formation for the Diocese of Helena at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon. He was ordained a priest on Dec. 14, 2007, at the Cathedral of St. Helena.

While a seminarian at Mount Angel, Father Long underwent surgery to remove a tumor discovered on his hip. He was diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, an extremely rare autoimmune disease that mimics the symptoms of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for which there is no cure. By the time of his ordination, he was walking with the aid of crutches. According to his friends, he found his great love serving as a priest, administering the sacraments and counseling his flock.

As his illness weakened him, the Diocese of Helena brought him home in 2010, where he took up a new life and ministry at Big Sky Care Center. Now using a power chair, and with the tireless assistance of his dad, Bill, Father Long ministered throughout Helena’s parishes. He became a beloved priest, confessor and friend to countless people. He once remarked that his infirmity was the best thing that ever happened to him, because it allowed him to shed the pride he had felt for most of his life.

He is survived by his parents, Bill and Kathleen Long; siblings Jennifer, Scott (Kathy) and Amy (Tom) from Corona; and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Fr. Paul Ojibway, SA; former director of Native American Ministry

Funeral Mass was held Aug. 21 in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Atonement at Graymoor in Garrison, New York, for Franciscan Friar of the Atonement Father Paul Ojibway, 63, who died Aug. 10 in Washington, D.C.

Born in Portland, Oregon, he studied psychology at St. Mary’s College of California and earned a theology degree from the Catholic University of America. Father Ojibway also did graduate work in “depth psychology, spirituality and faith formation” from the John XXIII Institute for Eastern Christian Studies at Fordham University. He professed as an Atonement Friar in 1974, made his final vows in 1977 and was ordained a priest in May of 1978.

In the 1980s, he was director of the Newman Center at Los Angeles City College. An enrolled member of the Fond du Luc Band of Lake Superior Chippewa of Minnesota, Father Ojibway worked in Native American ministries in California from 1989-1993. His goal was to gather together the existing Catholic Indian community in Los Angeles, identify their pastoral and social needs and be a bridge between Native Americans and the wider Catholic community.

In 1993, he became director of American Indian Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the director of archdiocesan Native American ministries. He was also an advisor to the White House on urban American Indian affairs, the President’s Initiative on Race, intergovernmental relations, and advisor to the White House Office of Religious Liaison.

In the 2000s, he served as campus minister at St. Mary’s College in Moraga and, in 2009, he was elected to a five-year term by his religious brothers to serve as 4th General Councilor. In 2010, he relocated to Washington, D.C., to serve as guardian of the Atonement friary and director of postulants in the U.S.

In addition to his many accomplishments, he helped Sister Kateri Mitchell, SSA, executive director of the Tekakwitha Conference, to form a task force of Native catechists to work on a project with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that resulted in a book called The People.

Sr. Annette Thibault, CSJ

Funeral Mass was held Aug. 28 at Carondelet Center in Los Angeles for Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Annette Thibault (Sister Camille), who died Aug. 18.

A native of Nashua, N.H., Sister Thibault received her RN degree from St. Joseph School of Nursing before moving to Los Angeles and entering the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. After her profession, she was missioned to Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood from 1959 to 1968 as supervisor of obstetrics and later spent nearly 15 years in St. Paul, Minn., at St. Joseph Hospital and at Seton Residence, a home for unwed mothers staffed by the CSJs.

Sister Thibault returned to Los Angeles in 1981 and, until 1987, ministered as a nurse at Queen of Angels Clinic. She then did an “about face” and became a tutor and teacher assistant in primary grades at St. Vincent’s School and Immaculate Conception School, both in L.A., and at St. John Chrysostom School in Inglewood. In 2011, she joined Holy Family Community and the ministry of prayer and witness.