Faith Builders

St. Leo’s Catholic Church carries on a 2,000-year tradition
Miriam Campan
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
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Reverend Samuel Spiering takes a moment of reflection at Mary’s garden along the side of St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Lewistown.
Photo by Miriam Campan

St. Leo’s Catholic Church is steeped in history, a history spanning from the late 1800s through the 21st century, years plagued by wars, epidemics, depressions, and civil unrest. The liturgical calendar over those years also recorded the day-to-day rites of baptisms, weddings, and funerals, along with high holidays and simple praying of the rosary or lighting of a candle to shine through the darkness.
As the pandemic ebbs and life begins anew, St. Leo the Great Parish remains “a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the teachings and tradition of Mother Church, summarized in love of God and neighbor.”
St. Leo’s has kept the doors open for parishioners to continue to worship amidst the high ceilings and stained glass windows.
Known to the St. Leo’s congregation as “Father Samuel,” Reverend Samuel Spiering heeded all the recommendations of social distancing, use of masks and sanitizer in order to keep the church open for prayer and adoration during the height of the pandemic.
“If you can’t find peace in your own church then where can you find it?” Spiering said. “Ultimately we are here to be a religious presence in the community of God.”
That religious presence of God is felt in a number of ongoing ministries, including a youth ministry. Six members of this ministry will represent Saint Leo’s at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis this November.
Spiering said, “Our youth ministry is very active. It’s a great opportunity, on the local level, for our youth to meet other Roman Catholics from around the world. We are sending six representatives to be together with 10,000 other Catholic youth for fellowship, music and worship.”
While worship services continued through the global crisis, fundraising, an integral part of serving the community, needed to be reinvented and slowly reintroduced into the community.

“We recently did a drive-through fish fry and we will have a food booth at the Fair serving hamburgers, Polish dogs, nachos and fries—good fair food,” said Spiering.
Plans are in the works for the return of the church’s harvest dinner, which raises funds for the parish ministry, including outreach for the homeless and poor. The church continues to collect or purchase winter clothing and supports the Salvation Army. There is an active outreach to visit the sick, and this ministry is returning to the nursing homes.

A life of service
Father Spiering said his favorite Bible verse is John 11:16 “Let us go and die with him.” During challenging times, Spiering reflects on what St. Thomas said as Jesus was preparing to go to Jerusalem.  This verse reminds him to trust in the faith to which he has dedicated his life.
As a 12-year-old child, Father Samuel was encouraged by his parents to follow the calling, but it was in the memories of a lingering dream where he saw himself being ordained as a priest.
“I was either going to be a priest or a lawyer,” said Spiering said.
He attended college and majored in philosophy, but the childhood dream continued to encourage him to make the decision to attend seminary school.
The dream became a reality; not only becoming ordained, but to become a parish priest and a Canon lawyer. Spiering considers his position as parish priest for St. Leo’s a privilege and an honor.
Service times are listed on the church’s website and on their Facebook page. Non-Catholics are welcome to attend worship service and to receive a blessing.
“Come and check us out,” Spiering said.