Field Notes

Idaho 2008 The Shepherds Rock

May 21
Idaho 2008 The Shepherds Rock
Posted May 21, 2012

After we arrived in base camp in Idaho Fr. Coning and 2 men started looking for an appropriate place for the Sanctuary and Altar. One location was near the camp and easy to get to but there were no building materials nearby. Jeff McKenna insisted that we place the Altar on a high ridge about 600' above base camp. That meant that at the end of each grueling day of work, the men would have to hike up the 600' to celebrate Mass.

Some of the men resisted but Jeff was drawn to the ridge and kept insisting. Finally all the men and Fr. Coning hiked up to the top. It was a phenomenal location for the Sanctuary and the Altar. To the east there was a view of at least 75 miles out into the Idaho wilderness. To the west a small knoll with a natural seating arrangement. On the north Mt Baldy towered and on the south the Sancturary was framed in lodge pole pines. When Fr. Coning saw the view and the setting he stated without hesitation that this would be the location of the Sancutary and where the Altar would be built.

The next morning the men headed up to the Sancturary and started building the Altar. One of the men discovered that Steve Petesch, our USFS leader, was Catholic, and invited him to join us in constructing the Altar. As each man found and brought his rock to the Altar, Steve found a nice flat rock and when he picked it up and turned it over, scripture was found written on the face of the rock:

For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Steve had found a rock written on by the "old shepherd" Billie. Billie was a Scotsman who came to America in the late 1800's after losing the love of his life. He proceeded to live a life of debauchery until he lost everything and found Christ. The Holy Spirit "drove him into the wilderness" of Idaho where he tended sheep and wrote scripture on rocks for the rest his life. Most of Billies rocks have disapeared through the years from weathering and vandalism. No one knew that Billie was in this location in Idaho.







Left-Right: Greg Frantz, Tom Gardner, Ed Clark, Chris Walsh, FR. Jeff Coning, Bob Frantz, Jeff McKenna, Jeff Simpson, John Bradford.


  • God is breaking us down men; rain, rain, rain.
  • The shepherd and the stone
  • Your are the best trail crew. It is because of your Faith
  • The attack of the world, the flesh and the devil.