After a long, dark, wet winter, Oregon Catholics want to spend summer getting out into God’s creation. Don’t worry, enjoying the outdoors is acceptable in Catholic teaching.
A “fundamental truth of Catholic Christianity is that creation is good, so that love of created things is also good,” writes Jeffrey Mirus, a co-founder of Christendom College and Trinity Communications.
It’s important, though, to make sure that one is not replacing God with nature. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that God is not an item in the world, but is being itself.
“God is that great ocean of existence from which the world in its entirety comes,” says Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, a Catholic writer.
So, on your summer treks, make sure to maintain your relationship with the Almighty and give thanks to the Creator. Below, we have curated a few Oregon summer adventures and arts — and let you know the closest place to attend Mass.
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
One of the great summer pleasures is experiencing the Bard on a grassy lawn with trees overhead — and no admission fee.
• In its 48th season, the Portland Actors Ensemble will perform two lesser-known plays, “Troilus and Cressida” and “The Winter’s Tale.” Dates, times, and locations are still being worked out. Go to portlandactors.com.
• In Eugene, “Henry V” is on stage, or on the lawn, 6 p.m.-8:15 p.m., Aug. 5-27 at Amazon Community Park, 2700 Hilyard St. For more information, call 541-682-5373. (St. Thomas More Newman Center at University of Oregon, 1850 Emerald: Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 7:30 p.m.)
• It may not be in the park, and it certainly is not free, but the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of the world’s best venues, particularly the outdoor theater, which is a summer tradition for many. Playing this year are “Henry IV” parts 1 and 2 and “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” among other works. Interested fans can hear lectures before the plays. For information, go to osfashland.org. (Our Lady of the Mountain, 987 Hillview Dr.: Saturday 5 p.m.; Sunday 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. (Spanish), 5 p.m.)
HIKING AROUND EUGENE
Not just a college town, Eugene has gems of nature close by. It’s easy to go to Mass, go for a hike, then head into town for a bite to eat.
• Spencer Butte is a mountain right in Eugene’s backyard. It rises to 2,000 feet, offering views of the city and the southern part of the Willamette Valley. Some trails are short and easy, while some are longer and steep. The longest trail is six miles to the rocky top, starting from 52nd and Willamette Street. The top is ideal for a picnic. (St. Jude Church, 4330 Willamette: Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m.)
• Whereas Spencer Butte is south of town, the northerners have their own butte, which is full of religious significance. Skinner Butte stands on the north edge of downtown and is covered with pretty, wooded trails. Round trip to the top is about 30 minutes, a one-mile climb that rises 262 feet. From the late 1930s to 1964, private believers put up a succession of wooden crosses at the summit. In 1964, Christians got serious and erected a 51-foot concrete cross that glowed with neon tubing. Other locals complained about the cross and the Ninth Circuit Court ordered that it be removed. The cross now stands at Eugene Bible College. (St. Mary Church, 1062 Charnelton St.: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.; Sunday 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m.
• For those who prefer a flatter hike, Hendricks Park offers 78 acres of mature forest and winding trails. It’s the oldest park in the city and includes a famous rhododendron garden and now a garden of native plants. Centuries-old Douglas firs rise above wildflowers and ferns. In early summer, it’s one of Eugene’s finest places. (St. Thomas More Newman Center at University of Oregon, 1850 Emerald: Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 7:30 p.m.)
• Get a close look at God’s winged creatures at Cascades Raptor Center, 32275 Fox Hollow Rd. The center, on the side of Spencer Butte, has one of the largest collections of native raptor species in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors can view nearly 50 birds of prey in big outdoor aviaries. Many are being rehabilitated after injury or illness. The center is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. For information, call 541-485-1320 or go to cascadesraptorcenter.org
• East of Eugene near Dexter is 4,600-foot Mount June, which has a short but fairly steep climb for views of the central Oregon Cascade Range. The 2.3-mile-long trail starts amid woods and wildflowers and climbs to a somewhat rocky peak that once was a fire lookout. The Three Sisters and Diamond Peak are visible from the top. (St. Henry Church, 38925 Dexter Rd.: Sunday, 9 a.m.)
Oregon’s south coast can be a long drive for some, but that means the crowds are smaller. Charming Catholic churches can be found in the area, plus some Catholic history.
• In Port Orford in 1898, an Irish Catholic dairy farmer named Patrick Hughes built an ornate Victorian home on Cape Blanco with views of the rocky shores below. With 3,000 square feet and 11 rooms, it’s made of old growth cedar. Water heated by the kitchen stove provided the enjoyment of a warm bath. The room still has the original wood trimmed claw-footed tub. The house served as the Catholic Church in these parts for a time, with visits from archbishops. The upstairs has a chapel. One of Patrick’s sons, John, became a priest of the archdiocese. Open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For information, call 541-332-0248. (St. John the Baptist Church, 1476 Oregon St., Port Orford: Wednesday, 9 a.m. Mass on Sundays is held in nearby Bandon at Holy Trinity Church, 355 Oregon Ave, SE: Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday 10:30 a.m.)
• On rugged sandstone cliffs above the crashing Pacific, Shore Acres State Park offers natural and constructed objects of fascination. On the Cape Arago Highway, 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay/North Bend and U.S. Highway 101, it once was the grand estate of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson. The property is framed in lush gardens with plants and flowers from around the world. Something is in bloom almost every day of the year. There is even a Japanese garden and two rose gardens. A trail leads to a secluded beach. If you prefer the indoors, an observation building gives views far out into the ocean. (St. Monica Church, 357 S 6th St., Coos Bay: Saturday 5:30 p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. in Spanish)
• Cape Arago itself is a scenic headland jutting into the Pacific Ocean. Long used by native Americans, the cape was first sighted by Europeans during one of Sir Francis Drake's expeditions in the late 1500s. Modern visitors can scan the horizon for migrating whales and other marine mammals, as well as fishing boats and ships entering and leaving nearby Coos Bay. A trail leads down to a sandy beach and tide pools. Not far offshore is Shell Island — a designated National Wildlife Refuge and favorite lounging spot of seals and sea lions. The trail is closed March 1- June 30 to protect seal pups. (St. Monica Church, 357 S 6th St., Coos Bay: Saturday 5:30 p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. in Spanish)
• The Southern Oregon Kite Festival, set for July 15-16 in Brookings, started in 1993 and now brings kite-flying heroes to the small town near the California coast. A field at the Port of Brookings is set aside just for kite flying, an indication of how important the art is hereabouts. During the festival, skilled flyers make their kites dance and dart, all choreographed to music. Kids can attend workshops on kite building and there is plenty to eat, including a pancake breakfast. Shuttles will take viewers from parking areas. (Star of the Sea Church, 820 Old Country Rd., Brookings: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.)
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME
Oregon does not have a major league baseball team, but there are a number of minor-league outfits that provide fun and a simpler experience that hearkens back to the old days of baseball before jumbo screens and $10 frankfurters.
• Portland Pickles — In the Lents neighborhood of Southeast Portland, some fine college-age players take part in the old pastime, even using wooden bats. “This is one of the best things I’ve seen in baseball,” says group sales manager Greg Herbst. The Pickles even have a Catholic night planned. At the 7:05 p.m. game on Saturday July 8, Archbishop John Vlazny will be on hand to take in the game and enjoy the company of the crowd — many of whom are expected to be Catholics. (St. Peter Church, 5905 SE 87th Ave.: Saturday, 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m., noon in Spanish)
Hillsboro Hops — Minor league short season A level affiliate of the surging Arizona Diamondbacks, the Hops play at splendid Ron Tonkin Field located at the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex, 4460 NE Century Blvd. Playing in a hops-growing part of Oregon, the team allows its fans to enjoy plenty of the brew derived from the plant. (St. Matthew Church, 475 SE Third Ave., Hillsboro: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. in Spanish, 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m. in Spanish)
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes — Drivers have long noted the team’s stadium alongside I-5. This summer, that field happens to be in the path of the total solar eclipse, giving the team one of the best promotional ideas ever: A game on the morning of the eclipse. The team is class A short season affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Aug. 18-21 series will be a three-day festival of baseball and the heavens. The Aug. 21 game is expected to have baseball’s first eclipse delay. Team owners, Jerry and Lisa Walker, are Catholic. (St. Edward Church, 5303 River Rd N, Keizer: Saturday 5:30 p.m.; Sunday 8:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. in Spanish)
Eugene Emeralds — Class A short season affiliate of the world champion Chicago Cubs, the Ems are a longtime part of Eugene life. They play at PK Park, which the share with the University of Oregon Division 1 baseball program. The park has a total capacity of 4,000, including 2,040 box seats with backs. (St. Thomas More Newman Center at University of Oregon, 1850 Emerald: Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 7:30 p.m.)